Most everyone is familiar with the itchy, red bumps commonly associated with a mosquito bite. For those who have an allergy to them, these bites can go from a minor annoyance to something much more serious.

Most mosquito bites occur at either dusk or dawn. This is when mosquitoes are most active. The male mosquito is harmless, and only feeds on nectar and water. The female mosquitoes are the blood suckers. They need the protein in blood to help develop their young. The mosquito finds her target by honing in on skin scent and lactic acid in the sweat. She also follows exhaled carbon dioxide and movement to track down her next feast. Upon reaching her target, she finds a spot of exposed skin and inserts her proboscis to suck out her meal. The red bump and itchiness commonly associated with mosquito bites don't come from the bite itself. Rather, our immune systems react to certain proteins in the mosquito's saliva.

You may have noticed that some people have a tendency to be bitten more than others. Though researchers are uncertain as to why, mosquitoes prefer certain targets. These include males, people with type O blood, and people who are overweight. A common avoidance method is to be wary of wearing dark colors. As mosquitoes are attracted to heat, darker colors absorb more heat, and therefore may absorb more mosquitoes.

Symptoms of a mosquito bite
The more times you have been bitten, the more desensitized you become to mosquito bites. As your body gets "used to" the bites, it releases less histamine as a reaction to them. For this reason, adults often have less severe reactions than children. Common reactions to mosquito bites are bumps on the skin where the bite has occurred that may become red and itchy. Symptoms may be delayed up to 48 hours after the initial bite.

More severe allergic reactions to mosquito bites include a larger are of effect, hives, lesions, and bruises near the site of the bite. An inflammation of the lymph system, known as lymphangitis, may also occur in those who are allergic. A person may also experience anaphylaxis, which is a rare, life-threatening condition that results in swelling in the throat and wheezing and requires immediate medical attention. If untreated, anaphylaxis can prove fatal.

Mosquitoes are also known to carry blood transmuted diseases. These include yellow fever, malaria, West Nile Virus, dengue fever, a brain infection known as encephalitis, and meningitis (Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms that you may be experiencing more than an allergic reaction are severe headache, rash, body ache, fever, sensitivity to light, fatigue or confusion, or neurological changes.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

Preventing Mosquito Bites

If you or your child has an allergy to mosquitoes, the best method is prevention. Mosquito breeding grounds are areas of standing or stagnant water. Avoid standing water at dawn or dusk especially.

Methods of prevention also include patching possible entry holes in window screens, eliminating standing water in and around the home, wearing light colors, and covering as much skin as possible. Another effective method is burning citronella candles or using citronella essential oil when outdoors. The strength of the scent actually masks the lactic acid in your sweat that the mosquitoes use to target you. Some recommend the use of bug sprays containing DEET.

Treatment of Mosquito Bites.
Even if you are covered head to toe, chances are you will not be able to protect yourself from every single bite. In the case of a normal bite reaction, calamine lotion or creams containing hydrocortisone help with itching. Ice packs may also help relieve symptoms. If the bites are widespread, ice baths may be taken.

For more serious reactions, oral antihistamines may need to be used. Topical anti itch lotions or benzocaine may come in handy as well.

In extreme cases of possible anaphylaxis, an epinephrine autoinjector, commonly known as an EpiPen, may be needed to be carried on hand.

If you have a mosquito bite allergy, It is best to prevent bites as much as possible. Repellents may be used to some success, as well as wearing proper attire. If you have an allergy and live in mosquito populated areas, you may consider consulting with an allergy specialist to discuss treatment options. Although mosquito bites don't cause any long term health risks themselves when properly dealt with, it is important to know how to handle the symptoms and effects of the bites when they happen.

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Author's Bio: 

Brian Wu graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology and Neurobiology. Currently, he holds a PhD and is an MD candidate (KSOM, USC) in integrative biology and disease. He is also an experienced writer and editor for many prestigious web pages. Brian values the ability of all ages to learn from the power of stories. His mission is to write about health conditions, educational topics and life situations in an entertaining way in order to help children understand their own life conditions and daily circumstances.