When you get mosquito bites, do they typically become extremely swollen, hot, and irritated? Do the bite areas seem much larger than on other people? You're not alone. Some people experience a severe reaction to mosquito bites known as "skeeter syndrome." So what is skeeter syndrome, and why do some people get it? Keep reading to find out!
What Is Skeeter Syndrome?
Skeeter syndrome is the name for an allergic reaction to mosquito bites. The symptoms can vary from person to person, but they typically involve large, red welts that are hot, itchy, and swollen. For reference:
- A "normal" size for a mosquito bite is about 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the swelling and redness will peak about 20 minutes after the mosquito bites you.
- People with skeeter syndrome get much larger, darker, hotter bites that can swell up over several days to 4 inches in diameter.
For some people, skeeter syndrome can also cause fever and nausea. In severe cases, the reaction can even lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition.
What Causes Skeeter Syndrome?
People with skeeter syndrome have an allergy to proteins in mosquito saliva. While biting you, a mosquito injects saliva into your skin. If you're allergic to the proteins that saliva, your body will have an immune response that will cause you to have much bigger, more painful mosquito bites than the average Joe.
Are Some People More Likely to Get Skeeter Syndrome Than Others?
Yes, skeeter syndrome is more common in certain groups of people, including:
- Children and infants, who don't have natural immunity built up yet
- People bitten by a type of mosquito they have never encountered before
- People with an immune system disorder
How to Relieve Mosquito Bite Discomfort
If you have skeeter syndrome, you can do a few things to ease your symptoms. Applying an ice pack to the bite area can relieve swelling and provide some numbing. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you try using a topical, over-the-counter steroid cream or calamine lotion on the bite areas. They may also recommend that you take an oral antihistamine.
Of course, the best thing that you can do is avoid mosquito bites in the first place. You can do this by:
- Wearing long-sleeves, pants, and socks when you're outside
- Using an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellant
- Staying indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active
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