Mosquito bites are the itchy bumps that appear after female mosquitoes use their mouthparts to puncture your skin and feed on your blood. They need blood for extra protein for producing eggs. As a biting mosquito fills itself with blood, it injects saliva into your skin. Proteins in the saliva trigger a mild immune system reaction that results in the characteristic itching and bump. Most mosquito bites are harmless, but bites from mosquitoes carrying certain viruses or parasites can cause severe illness. Infected mosquitoes in many parts of the world transmit West Nile virus to humans, or yellow fever, malaria or some types of brain infection (encephalitis). There is no such threat in Hungary. However, they may survive on the plane flying in from infected areas.
Most people never notice their first mosquito bites. After being bitten several times, though, you’re likely to start noticing, often almost immediately after the mosquito feeds. The signs include:
- A puffy, white bump that appears a few minutes after the bite
- A hard, itchy, reddish-brown bump, or multiple bumps, appearing a day or so after the bite or bites
- Swelling around bites
- Small blisters instead of hard bumps
- Dark spots that look like bruises
In children and people with immune system disorders, mosquito bites sometimes trigger:
- A large area of swelling and redness
- Low-grade fever
- Swollen lymph nodes
When to see a doctor
If mosquito bites seem to be associated with more serious signs and symptoms — such as fever, headache and body aches — contact your doctor.
You can take a number of steps to limit your exposure to mosquitoes and protect yourself from bites when mosquitoes are unavoidable.
– Use insect repellent
– Wear protective clothing. When you’re in an area with lots of mosquitoes, wear:
- Long sleeves
- Long pants, possibly tucked into the tops of your socks
- Light colors
- A wide-brimmed hat to help protect your ears and the back of your neck
– Reduce mosquitoes around your home. Mosquitoes need standing water to breed. To keep your house and yard free of mosquito pools:
- Unclog roof gutters.
- Empty children’s wading pools at least once a week, and preferably more often.
- Change water in birdbaths at least weekly.
- Drain a fire pit if water collects there.