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How To Treat An Infected Mosquito Bite

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Mosquitoes are annoying insects, leaving behind itchy, red bumps after puncturing the skin of their human prey. Although mosquito bites are usually harmless, they sometimes get infected or cause redness and swelling. Known as “skeeter syndrome,” mosquito bite infections are more common in children than in adults.

Mosquitoes can cause life-threatening illness if they carry certain parasites or viruses. Encephalitis, dengue fever, malaria, Rift Valley fever, yellow fever and West Nile virus are some of the blood-borne diseases that mosquitoes spread to humans. Heartworm disease is a mosquito-borne canine disease.

But if persistent scratching breaks the skin, even a disease-free bite can get infected. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mosquito bites, infections and related problems can help people determine the best way to treat them. Itching and swelling require one type of treatment, while skin infections require another.

Here are some of the common symptoms of mosquito bites in children and adults.

Mosquito Bite Symptoms

People rarely notice the first mosquito bites they acquire. After they are bitten a few times, they are more likely to notice the bites. This often happens immediately after a mosquito feeding.

A puffy, flesh-colored bump may appear on the skin a few minutes after a mosquito bite. In a day or two, the bump may grow hard and turns into a reddish-brown color. It may also start to itch and swell.

Sometimes, mosquito bites appear as small blisters instead of puffy or hard bumps. Or, they may occur as dark spots that resemble bruises. If a mosquito bite becomes infected, it may become red, sore and swollen. It may also ooze or weep fluid.

In people with immune system disorders, a mosquito bite may trigger additional problems including hives, swollen lymph nodes and low-grade fever. Conventional wisdom recommends that people seek medical attention if an infected mosquito bite causes serious symptoms such as headache, body ache and fever.

Mosquito Bite Treatments

In normal circumstances, a mosquito bite stops itching and heals on its own without medical treatment. An ice pack may help with the itching and swelling until the bite heals. To expedite healing, it is helpful to know how to treat an infected mosquito bite.

Topical treatments like calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream or an antibiotic ointment can sooth mosquito bites and encourage healing. They are applied after the infected area of the skin is washed with soap and water and dried with a clean towel.

Although it is hard to resist scratching a mosquito bite, avoidance can prevent infection. Fingernails harbor numerous types of bacteria, and scratching a mosquito bite may cause a secondary infection.

A bite infection or other strong reaction may improve with an oral antihistamine. Cetirizine, chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine or loratadine are four ingredients that are commonly found in antihistamines. They may ease a person’s response to a mosquito bite.

Mosquito Bite Prevention

Prevention is the best treatment for a mosquito bite, because it stops an infection before it starts. People can take many steps to limit their exposure to mosquitoes or protect themselves when exposure is unavoidable.

An insect repellant is a temporary solution. It keeps hungry mosquitoes from identifying someone as food source. The length of protection depends on the strength of the ingredients in the repellant. Most repellants contain chemical ingredients like DEET or picaridin or plant-based compounds such as oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Most insect repellants are safe for children and adults, but they are not recommended for infants. Additionally, they are recommended for outdoor use only. It is important to wash the skin of repellant when returning indoors.

Protective clothing is another preventative measure to prevent mosquito bite infections. Long sleeves, long pants, socks and hats protect people from bites when they are in mosquito-infested areas. Permethrin, an insect repellant for clothing, adds another layer of protection.

Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Water can collect in just about anything: wading pools, birdbaths, flower pots, old tires, fire pits and more. Keeping these items empty and dry can discourage mosquitoes and prevent bites and infections.

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