Why They Itch & How to Make It Stop
Warm, summer days call for hanging out in the backyard and taking long walks out
in the sunshine...and that means sharing the outdoors with mosquitoes.
the fear of mosquito-borne diseases like West
Nile Virus has increased awareness of the fact that these
buzzing pests love damp, marshy places with standing water where
they can breed.
Lakes, rivers, or marshlands near the ocean are wonderful climates
for mosquitoes. Don't think that a hike in the mountains or forests
means a mosquito free experience. The damp leaves and standing
water that keeps the trees green provide lots of spaces where
mosquitoes can find a home.
a mosquito bite?
are designed to get their protein in liquid form. When the little
insect stabs her victim with that needle-like mouthpart, she
injects a liquid containing digestive enzymes and anticoagulants
to season her meal. The proteins in this liquid are the cause
of the allergic reaction we call a mosquito bite.
does it itch?
first bite doesn't cause any reaction, but it does sensitize
the body to the foreign proteins. The next few bites are the
worst as the body fights the invading proteins. Babies and
young children often experience more redness and swelling when
they get bitten.
most cases, as time passes and more mosquito bites come and
go, the immune system begins to get less sensitive and the bite
will cause less irritation. Some people become so desensitized
that they become "immune" to the itchy bites.
develop greater sensitivity with every bite.
hard not to scratch an itch, but in the case of a mosquito bite,
scratching just causes more irritation. Your immune system interprets
that as a call for more antibodies to fight the foreign proteins.
The more you scratch, the more it will itch and the longer it
will take to go away. When you rub and scratch you also risk
breaking the skin, resulting in an infection or a scar.
you can do to prevent mosquito bites
can hide indoors all summer wearing long pants and a long shirt
and gloves... but you may still get a bite.
are plenty of bug repellents, some with sunscreen and some without,
that will make your skin unattractive to a hungry mosquito.
Doctors recommend finding one that includes DEET, which repels
both ticks and mosquitoes. DEET is approved for children over
2 months old, but check with your pediatrician before using
any products containing toxic substances on your children.
are other, natural ways that are said to reduce your chances
of getting bit. Aromatherapy
experts suggest essential oils in basil
as a natural cure for related itching and burning. Other sources
claim that eating garlic and boosting your intake of foods containing
vitamin B1 (thiamine). Whether that works or not is up for debate,
but both garlic
B1 are said to boost your immune function so there may be
something to this.
sweet scents either perfumes or after shaving lotions
seems to attract more mosquitoes. Many people believe
that rubbing down with vinegar, onion juice or garlic prevents
getting bitten, but then you smell like garlic, onions or vinegar
and mosquitoes may not be the only ones who want to avoid getting
anywhere near you!
A number of gardeners also swear by a plant to help repel mosquitos called the American beautyberry. Although folklore is full of homemade remedies that are said to repel the backyard pests, this one has some scientfic research to bolster claims that it actually works.
Other plants that are said to work to help repel mosquitoes include marigolds, rosemary and, surprisingly, catnip.
these tips to help with itch
Ken Haller, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at Saint
Louis University advises that mosquito bites seem to come
with summer. It's best to think ahead and apply an insect
repellent some even are combined with sunscreen to
give double protection from summer hazards before going
out. But if you forget and get an itchy welt, dab a bit of
roll-on antiperspirant directly on the bug bite and the itching
will stop. "The aluminum salts in the antiperspirant
help the body to reabsorb the fluid in the bug bite. The swelling
goes down and the itching goes away," he says. (Newswise)
method that has many followers is to dig two fingernails into
the skin on either side of the bite. Push hard enough to dent
the skin but not too hard, you don't want to cut yourself.
Then lightly slap the spot a few times. The theory behind
this is that the slight pain takes precedence over the itch
signal that your brain is getting. Your nerves can't transmit
both itching and hurting at the same time. The pain is mild
but its enough to drown out the itch.
say that a wipe with alcohol will stop the itch. Carrying
packets of alcohol wipes make it easy to apply no matter where
you are when you get a bite... also recommended are white
vinegar and onion juice. Old fashioned, brown kitchen soap
rubbed on the spot is rumored to tame the itch.
heat or running hot water over the bite is supposed to help
break down the enzymes and ease the itch. If you try this
home remedy, make sure that you don't use anything hot enough
to burn the skin!
are plenty of itch reducing creams and lotions on the shelves
of your local drug store. Calamine lotion is an old stand by,
but there are many alternatives. If you're not sure what to
try, ask your doctor or pharmacist what they recommend.
you are extremely allergic to mosquito bites, speak to your
doctor about prescribing an antidote - usually an antihistamine
- if you do get a bite and make sure to carry it with you...just
in case. If the welts get very red and don't calm down after
a few hours, you may need to seek medical help to avoid a more
severe reaction. If the welts are still red and sore after two
days, it may mean that the site has become infected and a call
to your health care provider is recommended.
mosquito bites will be just a minor annoyance, so apply your
repellent and go ahead and brave the great outdoors!