The dangers of mosquito bites and how to treat them

One of the negative sides to summer and warm days is the annoying nuisance known as mosquitos. Not only their bites leave an itchy bump, but they can lead to some serious illnesses, such as West Nile virus, encephalitis, Zika virus, Guillain-Barre disorder, microcephaly, Chikungunya virus, Dengue fever, Yellow fever, malaria… Some of these illnesses are not that severe and cause “only” inflammation, rash, muscle pain, etc. But, some of them may lead to serious consequences, amongst which could be even death. Malaria, for instance, causes 400 000 deaths every year all over the world. Zika virus is known to have mild symptoms, but it is linked to some dangerous conditions - the Guillain-Barre syndrome which causes temporary paralysis, microcephaly and birth defects. Microcephaly causes the baby’s head to not fully develop which may lead to intellectual delays and many other health problems. Encephalitis may lead to inflammation around the brain and the spinal cord, while West Nile virus is the cause of meningitis and brain swelling.

The mosquito season most commonly starts in early spring and ends with the first freeze. First things first. In order to prevent mosquito bites, apply some bug-repellant on your skin, use window screens, and get rid of stagnant water around your home.

According to Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association - Something as small as a bottle cap can be a breeding spot for mosquitoes. Furthermore, he advises: The good thing is that they can't fly very far, so if you can eliminate breeding spots on your property, you can greatly reduce the number of mosquitoes near your house. You know what this means – empty the buckets, kid pools, or any other permanent fresh water source. All these simple tips may get handy in case of mosquito invasion.

The other case scenario is that you hear that annoying high-pitched whine and soon after feel the skin start to itch thanks to the mosquito bite. Here are some tips on how to relieve the inflamed skin area. First of all – don’t scratch! Yes, we know this is the hardest thing (not) to do, but scratching causes openings in your skin which let the bacteria in and may lead to infection. Instead, wash the bitten area with soap and water and then apply some soothing lotion or anti-itch cream on the skin.

There are many home remedies that help with mosquito bite: oatmeal, crushed ice, aloe vera, honey, baking soda, basil, vinegar, onion, thyme, lemon balm, witch hazel, chamomile tea, garlic… You can find online the right recipe for any of these ingredients that will suit you. All it takes for some of them is to simply apply them to the sore skin.

In case that the bite causes more serious symptoms than itching, such as fever, vomiting, breathing issues, etc. go to the hospital as soon as possible to receive an adequate treatment or call 911 (or the adequate number in your country).

Nessie L.B.

HealthMosquitoMosquito bitesSkinSkin care

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