What is in a Mosquito Bite that Makes it Itch?

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A little boy who be bitten by mosquito

When a mosquito bites you, it leaves a red mark on your skin that itches. You instinctively scratch that red mark and the more the bite becomes itchier.

Why do Mosquito Bites Itch?

Fact is, only female mosquitoes bite and when female mosquito bites, she does not actually bite. The female mosquito’s proboscis, a large needle-like mouth part, probes through your skin while she is searching for a blood vessel. Once she finds a blood vessel, she sucks out some blood. Mosquitoes suck blood with force causing tiny blood vessels to rupture or collapse. While blood is being sucked, the mosquito leaves behind a little of its saliva.
This saliva serves as an anticoagulant which allows her to feast more quickly and efficiently giving more chances of sucking more blood before you even notice and splat her.
The saliva also prevents your blood from clotting at the site of the puncture. This saliva is the one causing the itch. The body has a natural immune response to the saliva of the mosquito so it creates histamines causing the skin to itch. Your body has an allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva which results in the reddish bump and the itching.

There are times when mosquito bites don’t itch immediately. It may sometimes take a couple of hours before you notice that you have been bitten by a mosquito. There are also some people who have been immune to mosquito bites because they have been bitten a lot before that they don’t feel the mosquito bites anymore.

The Science Behind the Mosquito Bite’s Itch

The saliva of the mosquito flows into the body through the hypopharynx while the labrum is used for pumping blood to the mosquito. The mosquito’s saliva contains proteins and enzymes that bypass the natural coagulation system of the body. The anticoagulants together with 19 other proteins and enzymes cause the allergic reaction in the body.

The body’s immune system reacts to the allergens by creating histamines. There are some scientists who believe that a person’s very first mosquito bite might have introduced these allergens to the body and sensitized him/her to the constituents of the mosquito’s saliva. The sensitization makes the body send immunoglobulins to the mosquito bite. Immunoglobulins break down mast cells and connective tissue that release histamines causing the itch. Mast cells defend against pathogens and help heal wounds but they also play a big role in inflammation and allergic reactions. The histamines released by mast cells are usually fought with antihistamines that help stop the itching.

There is also new research regarding the body’s response to a mosquito bite. This theory has something to do with mast cells releasing other substances aside from histamines which cause peripheral neurons to signal the central nervous system. The central nervous system interprets these signals and sends them to the brain which informs you that the bite itches.

Benefits of the Itch given by Mosquito Bites

Mosquito bites that itch may be quite annoying because it can oblige you to keep on scratching until you break your skin allowing dirt and other contaminants or substances to enter into the open wound but they can actually be of benefit. Without the itching, you may not even notice that you have been bitten by a mosquito. It is important to know that you have been bitten by a mosquito because mosquitoes can carry viruses such as West Nile virus, malaria, dengue, yellow fever, Chikungunya, and encephalitis. The itch can determine a potential cause in case the symptoms point to one of these conditions.

Being aware of the effects that a mosquito bite can bring, it is important to keep your surroundings clean and to avoid keeping stagnant water where these mosquitoes can hide and indulge in. Also, call a professional in pest management to lower or control the population of the mosquitoes within your property.

How to Lessen or Remove the Itch Caused by Mosquito Bites

Scratching a mosquito bite causes more itch and tends to make you scratch more until you break your skin. This is not good as you allow other substances and contaminants to enter into your open would which may cause other infections. There are other ways to help ease the itchiness of a mosquito bite.

For more natural ways, you can put an ice pack on the mosquito bite which will numb the nerves so that you won’t be able to feel the itch. You can also apply aloe to the bite to help relieve the itch that it causes. Another way is to dip a cotton ball on apple cider vinegar and gently apply this to the mosquito bite. It might sting a little but it will definitely relieve one from the itchiness caused by the mosquito bite.

Other ways ease the itchiness are by using calamine lotion or Benadryl which is often recommended by the doctors or medical professionals.