I Have a Mosquito Bite Swelling — What Should I Do?

From a mosquito bite itching, redness and swelling — what to do?

I Have a Mosquito Bite Swelling – What Should I Do?

A mosquito bite swelling can be very irritating and uncomfortable, although these insect bites are not really harmful unless the mosquito is carrying a disease that can be transmitted to humans. Identifying insect bites is difficult at times, but mosquitoes leave a very distinct bite that is soft, has a red area, and itches nonstop. Once you have been bitten knowing how to treat the bite is important.

A similar reaction will be seen with gnat bites that can also be a problem where insect bites are concerned. Gnats will leave a swelling looking very similar to mosquito bite swelling and should be treated the same way. The same reactions and complications are possible, so these bites are treated in the exact same way as those from mosquitoes.

Mosquito bite treatment begins with a simple cleaning. Wash the area with some and water, but do not scrub roughly. Once you have cleaned the area take an antihistamine, such as Benadryl or a generic brand. This will minimize the mosquito bite swelling and block the itch sensation so you do not scratch and cause further problems to occur.

For some people mosquito bite reactions may be worse than others. Some individuals are more sensitive, and this can cause more severe mosquito bite swelling, itching, redness, and pain. Severe allergic reactions are rare but can occur, and if you experience problems breathing, start to feel ill, or have any unusual symptoms you should seek medical attention. These can be signs of a rare reaction.

One big risk with an insect bite rash is infection. When you get bit and have a mosquito bite swelling the itching can become intense, so that you can think of little else. Scratching can break the skin, and allow bacteria to enter. This often results in a secondary infection from the bite, and this infection can become severe or even life threatening if not treated.


How to Get Rid of Swelling Red Bumps From Mosquito Bites

Everyone’s been there. It’s a hot day, mosquitoes are swarming and then the itching starts – they got you. Inevitably, someone will claim that those pesky little bugs only bite people who are sweet. That’s cold comfort when itchy, ugly red bumps start swelling on the skin. To banish those red bumps, aim to stop the itching. Scratching at itchy bites keeps them irritated and swollen. Get rid of the itch and the swelling should follow.

Ice Out Swelling

Before turning to medications to soothe mosquito bites, head for the kitchen. Some of the everyday items there might provide some relief and take down the swelling. Start with ice. It combats mosquito bites in a few ways. Applying ice to an irritated area can bring down swelling and reduce itchiness. That’s important, because scratching at a mosquito bite only prolongs the swelling and discomfort and can even lead to infection.

Fill plastic baggies with crushed ice and press one against each bite, until the cold sensation becomes too unpleasant or the swelling and itching go down. Frozen ice packs work too. In a pinch, press ice cubes directly against the skin. Used tea bags, chilled in the refrigerator and pressed against bites, also bring down swelling and provide cooling relief.

Try Other Home Remedies

A paste of 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water, applied directly to the wound, may help reduce itching and thereby shorten the life of the bite. Leave the paste on at least until it dries completely. Wipe it away with a damp cloth.

Some people swear that rubbing a cotton ball dipped in lemon juice or vinegar against a bite is an effective remedy, but your mileage may vary. Don’t use anything acidic on broken skin.

Apply an OTC Lotion

To treat persistent bites that won’t go down after a day or so, take a trip to the drugstore. Calamine lotion, made with zinc, is the old standby for treating bug bites. Apply the lotion to swollen bumps, let it dry and leave the dried lotion in place for a few hours. Reapply calamine lotion whenever the bites start to itch.

Turn to Medication if Necessary

Antihistamines work on both swelling and itchiness. Oral antihistamines containing diphenhydramine or loratadine are both good options, but consult a doctor first if you’re pregnant or have any medical conditions.

If no home remedies or over-the-counter products lessen the swelling or itchiness after a few days, or if the swelling increases over time, call the doctor. Some people are more affected by mosquito bites than others, and banishing them might require professional treatment. Prescription topical steroids may do the trick. And if any other unusual symptoms appear – like shortness of breath or spreading patches of redness – call the doctor immediately. Mosquitoes sometimes carry serious diseases.


The Surprising Treatment That Cures Swollen, Itchy Mosquito Bites

Not too long ago, my boyfriend and I went to the Dominican Republic to visit his family. I was prepared for the humidity, the fast-paced Spanish, and the endless servings of plantains, but I wasn’t ready for the hordes of mosquitoes. «They bite foreigners more than natives,» my boyfriend warned, and he was right. After just one evening (despite sleeping under a netted canopy!), my legs were covered in huge, blotchy marks that were nearly impossible to resist itching.

After seeing all my bites, my boyfriend’s mother passed me a tub of Vicks VapoRub ($5), swearing it would cure them. I was pretty apprehensive. I seem to be particularly sensitive to mosquitoes, because each of my bites turns into a quarter-sized welt that mars my skin for over a week. But I tried out the remedy on a few spots, mostly out of respect to my potential mother-in-law. To my great surprise, not only was the itching quickly soothed, but each bump faded in a few short days! Turns out the product is used for many ailments in DR, including headaches, fevers, toenail fungus, and more. (It reminded me a lot of Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding .)

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According to NYC dermatologist Dr. Neal Schultz, host of DermTV.com and creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz, there’s some solid science behind this homeopathic remedy. «Three of the ingredients (menthol, camphor, and thymol) are topical analgesics,» he explained. «They create a cooling sensation and stop the itching.»

The VapoRub was also responsible for flatting each bite, thanks to the formula’s nutmeg oil. This essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as pain-relieving and redness-reducing benefits. (That’s why it makes such a good at-home acne treatment.) Finally, the cedarleaf oil in Vicks acts as a natural mosquito repellent! Sometimes moms really do know best — I’ll never go on another tropical vacation without stashing a jar in my suitcase.


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How to Stop Swelling From a Mosquito Bite Near the Eye

Mosquito bites are caused by the female mosquito 1. Itching and swelling occur when your immune system reacts to proteins in the saliva of the mosquito, according to the Mayo Clinic 12. Try to use a mosquito repellent when going into an area heavily infested with mosquitoes. If you do get bitten by a mosquito and develop swelling near your eye, however, there are methods you can use to reduce the swelling.

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Take Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medicine, so it will help reduce the swelling.

Apply a cold compress for at least 15 minutes every hour. The ice will reduce the swelling near the eye.

Apply aloe vera gel to the spot. Aloe vera reduces swelling and itching and can be soothing to the skin.

Take an antihistamine. This can help «counter-act the swelling caused by insect stings and many kinds of allergic reactions,» according to Thomas Platts-Mills, M.D., Ph.D., head of the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in Charlottesville 45. Take the recommended dosage on the box.


See a doctor immediately if you develop hives, shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty swallowing and become light-headed. A local reaction such as swelling is normal. Seek medical attention if your swelling or pain keeps you from performing your normal activities or keeps you awake.

Mosquito bites are caused by the female mosquito. If you do get bitten by a mosquito and develop swelling near your eye, however, there are methods you can use to reduce the swelling. Apply a cold compress for at least 15 minutes every hour.


Do You Have a Mosquito Bite Allergy? The Most Common Reactions, Explained

The symptoms can range from common, minor bumps to rare medical emergencies.

This article was medically reviewed by Shonda Hawkins, MSN, a nurse practitioner and member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on June 11 2019.

There’s nothing worse than coming home from a hike, camping trip, or barbecue and discovering a ton of itchy, painful mosquito bites speckling your skin. Even worse: Your friend or sibling who was with you the entire time has no bites at all. So, what gives?

Well, it helps to know how and why a mosquito bites you in the first place. Only females are out for blood, explains Joseph M. Conlon, an expert with The American Mosquito Control Association who worked as an entomologist for 25 years.

“Female mosquitoes imbibe blood as a protein source for egg development,” Conlon says. When the female mosquito “bites” you, she inserts the tip of her mouth into one of your blood vessels, injecting her saliva into your bloodstream. The saliva contains a protein that prevents your blood from clotting as she eats. (What a pleasant thought, right?)

It’s these proteins, not the bite itself, that cause the swelling, redness, and itching that some—but not all—of us experience. It’s true: Seeing no reaction after a bite could mean you’re one of the lucky few who aren’t allergic to mosquito saliva, says Andrew Murphy, MD, a fellow at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

It also could mean you’ve developed an immunity to mosquito bites. “When a person has had repeated exposure to the mosquito allergen, her immune system can stop recognizing the allergen as a problem, and there is no reaction,” Dr. Murphy says.

However, many of us do have some type of allergy to these pesky bug bites—ranging from common, minor bumps to rare, severe reactions. Here are the symptoms to keep an eye out for and what you can do to find relief.

Minor mosquito bite allergy: Small red bump

What it looks like: round, white-ish bump, often with a small visible dot at the center; becomes red and firm after 1 or 2 days

What it means: This is the most common mosquito bite allergy and the reaction is more annoying than anything, says Jorge Parada, MD, medical director of the Infection Control Program at Loyola University Chicago and medical advisor for the National Pest Management Association. “This minor allergic reaction is in response to proteins in the mosquito’s saliva.”

Moderate mosquito bite allergy: Welts

What it looks like: slightly raised, smooth, flat-topped bumps that are usually more reddish than the surrounding skin

What it means: Some people are more sensitive to the mosquito’s proteins, explains Dr. Parada. This sensitivity causes them to react with larger welts instead of the traditional small bump. “However, some studies have found that the reaction is also a function of the mosquito’s feeding time,” he adds. “The longer the mosquito feeds, the more mosquito proteins are released, thereby increasing the chance of a visible reaction.”

Serious mosquito bite allergy: Hives and fever (aka skeeter syndrome)

What it looks like: welts accompanied by skin swelling, heat, redness, and itching or pain, along with a fever

What it means: You may have a reaction known as skeeter syndrome, a more extreme mosquito bite allergy. It can lead to excessive swelling of the bite area, as well as feeling hot and hard to the touch. Sometimes the bite area can even blister and ooze. While anyone can develop skeeter syndrome (even those with no prior extreme reaction to mosquito bites), Dr. Murphy says young children, patients with immune system disorders, and travelers exposed to new types of mosquitoes are at a higher risk.

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Severe mosquito bite allergy: Anaphylaxis

What it looks like: hives, lip/tongue swelling, trouble breathing, wheezing, coughing

What it means: While anaphylaxis from mosquito bites is rare, it can be fatal. “Patients with anaphylaxis to mosquitoes will have the typical symptoms of a severe allergic reaction,” Dr. Murphy says. He mentions hives, lip or tongue swelling, trouble breathing, wheezing, coughing, and—in severe cases—passing out or death. “Treatment is the use of injectable epinephrine and seeking immediate medical attention,” he adds.

If you suspect a mosquito bite is causing serious symptoms like fever, excessive swelling, hives, and swollen lymph nodes, seek emergency help.

How to treat and prevent mosquito bites

If you do fall on the minor to moderate end of the spectrum, there are a few things you can do at home to help get rid of mosquito bites faster.

First, swabbing the bite area with rubbing alcohol can help reduce your body’s histamine response (the chemical produced by your immune system that causes allergic reactions) by clearing away the mosquito’s saliva, according to Jonathan Day, PhD, a mosquito researcher and professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida.

Dabbing your skin with ice, calamine lotion, or 1 percent hydrocortisone cream can also help tame inflammation, relieve itching, and overall soothe the skin. If that’s not doing the trick, popping an oral antihistamine, like Benadryl, can also turn off your body’s histamine response to reduce swelling and itching.


How to Treat a Swelling Insect Bite

Many of us hate bugs, especially the biting ones. It’s one thing to be pesky and disgusting and a general nuisance, but biting is just one step too far. If you’re one of those who feels like bugs have a personal vendetta against you, it might be hard for you to believe that there are some other people who don’t get bitten as frequently as you do. Yeah, it’s not fair, but ours is not to question the gods of the bugs, ours is just to hear and obey.

Anyway, more to the point now If you’re reading this, you probably have a swelling insect bite for which you’re seeking treatment and our article today affords you enough information about that. We will be discussing everything about insect bites; from causes to symptoms and down to treatment, of course.

If, however, you’re in too much of a discomfort to patiently read through this from the beginning, you can also skip this part and jump right to the part where we actually discuss the treatment for swelling insect bites.

For those who want all the juicy details, let’s get straight to it.

Causes of Insect Bites

First of all, insects do not just bite you on a whim or because they hate you, although you may not believe it. They actually bite you because you attacked first, knowingly or unknowingly.

Most bites or stings from insects are more defensive than attacking. You probably provoked them when you disturbed them from their restful repose, or when you mistakenly hit their nest.

So, they bit or stung you to protect themselves and their nests or hives. That’s only fair, don’t you think? You might not have meant to disturb them but there’s no way they could have known that. They’re not human, remember?

But defense isn’t the only reason all insects bite. There are insects that bite in a bid to draw a meal from you; a blood meal actually. Yeah, like vampires. An example of such insects is the mosquito.

Generally though, except the mosquito carries a pathogen, mosquito bites do not usually pose serious threats to their victims. And aside mosquitoes, there are other insects that bite to get a blood meal, and they include lice, Tse Tse fly, deer fly, and some arachnids like ticks.

If it’s any comfort, some insects actually die after stinging or biting, e.g. the honeybee.

Symptoms of Insect Bites

On a good day, bug bites are mostly little beyond an unnecessary nuisance. But let’s quickly look up the different symptoms insect bites may present:

  • Redness
  • Localized swelling or minor pain
  • Itching
  • Blistering

Mild symptoms like these usually disappear within few days, and you would usually find them after getting bitten by insects such as mosquitoes, lice, chiggers, many ticks, bedbugs, some ants, some biting flies, fleas, and some non-poisonous spiders.

Now, there are cases where you would be grateful for a swelling after an insect bite and such cases include a situation when the skin gets broken and consequently gets infected. If this local infection gets severe, then it can lead to a condition called cellulitis. Another severe condition for which you’d be grateful for a swelling is when you are allergic to the bite and then face a severe reaction. This situation is referred to as anaphylaxis. You do not want to experience that.

Severe reactions may also present other symptoms such as:

  • Hives
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death within 30 minutes. Scary but true.

Severe reactions such as these are usually from stings from the following insects: scorpions, fire ants, yellow jackets, bees, some spiders, hornets, etc.

Why do Insect Bites Swell?

You’ve probably wondered why insect bites actually swell. Well, here’s a summarized story of the whole matter. Insects release saliva into your skin when they bite you and this saliva causes the affected part of your body to swell, become itchy and reddish.

Same goes for insects that sting, the release of venom into the skin also causes the affected area to swell, get itchy and form a weal (a red mark). Although the swollen area might be painful, insect bites are generally harmless, except when they are not. Most times, it won’t take more than a few awkward days of mild pain and itching for the swelling to disappear.

Treatment of Swelling Insect Bites

You want to put an ice pack on the bitten or stung area. However, ensure that you only leave the ice sitting on your skin for between fifteen and twenty minutes per time. If you’re not applying the ice pack, replace the ice pack with a cool, wet rag. Continue this process for 6 hours. When using the ice pack, ensure that you put a cloth on the area before placing the ice pack. Also, make sure that the ice does not sit on your skin for over twenty minutes at a stretch; or fall asleep while the ice stays on your skin. This is to ensure that blood continues to circulate in the affected area.

To reduce the swelling, raise the area that was bitten to a height above your heart.

Use a nonprescription drug to help you relieve redness, itching, and, of course, swelling. Ensure that you follow the precautions of using a nonprescription drug when using it.

  • The oral antihistamine like Chlor-Trimeton or Benadryl helps to relieve all three symptoms mentioned above. However, be careful when administering it to your child. In fact, if you haven’t checked with your doctor, do not administer antihistamine to your child.
  • Using a local anesthetic spray containing benzocaine like Solarcaine also helps to relieve pain. However, if you notice any reaction to the spray, please discontinue the use of the spray.
  • Some topical applications can also work. An example is calamine lotion when applied to the skin help to relieve redness and itching. If the victim of the bite is a child under the age of 2, except the doctor gives permission, don’t use it on them. And for children under 12, except with permission from the doctor, do not apply either of these creams on the vaginal or rectal area.
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Drink lots of water to help you expel the venom from your system.

Finally, the best way is to avoid being bitten in the first place.

If you’re going to a place where you know there will be lots of biting bugs, take precautions like wearing clothes that cover you properly, avoiding wearing strong scents, and probably going with an insect repellent.

But then again, there are always times when it just happens. This is life after all. Well, now you know what to do.


8 Best Ways to Stop Bug Bites From Itching, According to Doctors

Whether you were bitten by a mosquito, tick, or spider, these remedies will help you find relief.

Whether it was a tick bite, pinch from a spider, or a buzzing mosquito that you couldn’t swat away, your thought process probably looks a little something like this once you discover a new bug bite in all its glory:

  1. Oh no, what is that from?
  2. Phew, OK, doesn’t look serious.
  3. So. Much. ITCHING.

That’s because, when an insect bites you, a mixture of saliva (and sometimes venom) enters your skin at the puncture mark. Your immune system responds to this invasion by releasing a mixture of compounds, including the chemical histamine, explains Sarah Jackson, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Louisiana State University.

That histamine attacks foreign substances it deems potentially harmful, such as salivary proteins from insects, setting off itching, redness, and swelling in the process.

But just as all insects are different, so is our reaction to them. “Each bug has a different ‘ingredient’ that they are injecting into you that causes a different reaction,” Dr. Jackson says. “On top of that, your own immune response differs from person to person.”

Depending on how your body handles the bite, you could experience anything from no sensation to intense itchiness. That’s why a mosquito bite can lead to swollen welts in some people, and insignificant red bumps in others.

To some degree, though, everyone deals with itching—and it’s important not to scratch, otherwise you boost your risk of a gnarly infection. That’s easier said than done, so we talked to experts to find remedies that will heal your bug bite fast. Cue the sigh of relief:

How to stop bug bites from itching

“To stop the itching, there are lots of great over-the-counter remedies that you can use,” Dr. Jackson says, including the following:

1. Opt for 1% hydrocortisone.

This anti-inflammatory topical cream can help minimize redness, swelling, and itching by activating natural substances in the skin, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. We like Aveeno’s 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream, because it also contains soothing oat, aloe vera, and vitamin E.

2. Dab on a bit of rubbing alcohol.

“Rubbing alcohol works really well in reducing itching and that histamine response,” Jonathan Day, Ph.D., a mosquito researcher and professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida, previously told Prevention. He says the alcohol helps clear away the saliva proteins that would normally set off your immune system. Plus, it has a pleasantly cooling and soothing effect.

3. Apply a cold compress.

Grab an ice pack or some frozen veggies and give your bite 10 to 15 minutes of quick, short-lasting relief. Your skin may feel itchy again afterward, but this is a helpful way to reduce swelling and avoid incessant scratching if the area feels unbearable.

4. Soothe it with menthol or camphor.

Dr. Jackson suggests looking for lotions or ointments that contain menthol or camphor, like this one from Sarna, which creates a cooling sensation to help tamp down irritation.

5. Slather on some aloe vera.

Prefer a more natural route? Pure, 100% aloe vera gel is typically a safe bet. “It can help soothe irritated skin, such as from bug bites, because of its anti-inflammatory properties,” Noelani González, M.D., director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West in New York recently told Prevention. “It can also help reduce redness in that area.” (Just be sure to test a separate patch of skin first to ensure you have no allergic reaction.)

6. Try a pramoxine lotion.

There are tons of itch-relief creams to turn to, but Dr. Jackson recommends ones that contain 1% pramoxine hydrochloride, like this gentle formula from CeraVe. Pramoxine is a topical anesthetic, so it numbs the skin by preventing nerves from firing pain and itch signals.

7. Take an oral antihistamine.

Antihistamines, like Benadryl and Allegra, directly counter the effects of the histamines that your body releases after a bite, says Dr. Jackson.

8. Relieve mild pain with OTC med.

Dr. Jackson says good ol’ acetaminophen, like Tylenol, can help reduce any mild pain and itching from gnarly bites.

When to see your doctor about a bug bite

Dr. Jackson warns that the bite itself might not be your main worry—it’s what can happen after a few days of scratching, which opens up your skin to new danger.

“A bug bite can easily become secondarily infected,” she says. Pay close attention to the area to see if it gets worse over time, and see your dermatologist if you experience oozing pus at the bite site, warmth in the area, a rash that seems to spreading, or pain that doesn’t seem to be subsiding.

You should also pay close attention to any other symptoms you may experience following the bite, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Tick bites, for example, can cause severe fatigue, fever, body aches, headaches, and a bullseye-shaped rash—all signs of Lyme disease and other tickborne illnesses. In this case, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible, just to be safe.

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