Reducing Mosquito Bite Discomfort

Usually during the summer months, we talk about mosquito bite prevention. In addition to mosquitoes potentially carrying West Nile and other similar viruses, mosquito bite reactions can cause a great deal of itchiness, redness, local swelling and discomfort. In children, we often see huge local reactions. To soothe the discomfort, we recommend applying cool compresses and/or calamine lotion. This approach helps relieve the symptoms once the itchy bump develops. There is a way to reduce or even prevent the local reaction in the first place, if you get to it early enough.

Here is how:

If you feel or see that you or your child has been bitten by a mosquito, apply heat, such as a warm compress, directly to the area of the skin that was bitten. If you do this as soon as possible after the bite, ideally before the reaction starts to develop, you can reduce or even prevent the formation of the bump and redness.

Why is this?

When a mosquito bites, a substance in the saliva is injected into the skin of the bite victim. This substance then causes our body to react locally resulting in the development of the bump and associated symptoms. This whole process may take between a few minutes to a few hours after the bite.

We know this injected substance is heat-sensitive. In other words, heat will cause it to lose its potency. So when you apply heat to the bite area, this substance will be inactivated and there will be much less of a local reaction, if any. Keep this in mind the next time you notice you or a family member has been bitten by a mosquito!

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