Pesky insects have the potential to ruin any summer gathering with their itchy, irritating bites and bothersome presence. And, sometimes, it can seem like they are all swarming around just you. Could you be more susceptible to mosquito bites than others?
Cathy Cantor, MD, of ProMedica Physicians, says yes. Some individuals have body chemistry that make them more attractive to mosquitos.
“Mosquitos are attracted to people who produce large amounts of certain acids, such as uric acid,” Dr. Cantor says. “Also people with a high concentration of steroids or cholesterol on the surface of their skin are usually more prone to mosquito bites.”
While some people seem to be more susceptible to bites, everyone is at risk. Wearing long-sleeve clothing and applying mosquito repellent spray to exposed skin can help reduce your risk. Insect repellents with DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil are the most popular. If you do choose a product with DEET, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers tips for safe use, especially for children.
Dr. Cantor says mosquito bite symptoms are easily distinguishable, and tend to be pretty universal. Common symptoms include a small raised bump on the skin, redness and itchiness.
If you find yourself or your child with a mosquito bite and do not have a history of chronic medical problems or chronic skin issues, Dr. Cantor recommends applying over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to the infected area twice a day. An over-the-counter oral antihistamine is also recommended to reduce itching symptoms.
Medical assistance is typically not necessary when treating a mosquito bite, but there are cases when it is appropriate to seek medical attention.
“If the bite starts to produce discharge, if it starts to look like a blister, or if the redness around the bite starts to expand rapidly, that’s when you should make an appointment with your doctor,” Dr. Cantor says.
Learn more about protecting yourself and your loved ones from mosquito-borne illness in this article.