Your health care provider will likely be able to diagnose mosquito bites simply by looking at them and talking with you about your recent activities.

The inflamed, itchy, painful swelling referred to as skeeter syndrome is sometimes mistaken for a bacterial infection. Skeeter syndrome is the result of an allergic reaction to proteins in mosquito saliva. There's no simple blood test to detect mosquito antibodies in blood. Antibodies are substances the body produces during an allergic reaction.

Mosquito allergy is diagnosed by determining whether the large areas of swelling and itching occurred after mosquito bites.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Most mosquito bites stop itching and heal on their own in a few days. These self-care tips may make you more comfortable.

  • Applying a lotion, cream or paste. Avoid scratching itchy bites. It may help to apply calamine lotion or a nonprescription antihistamine cream or corticosteroid cream. Or try dabbing the bite with a paste made of baking soda and water. Reapply the cream or the paste three times a day until the itch is gone.
  • Rubbing with an ice cube. Try soothing an itchy bite by rubbing it with an ice cube for 30 seconds.
  • Applying pressure. Another way to soothe an itchy bite is by applying pressure for 10 seconds.
  • Taking an oral antihistamine. For stronger reactions, try taking a nonprescription antihistamine that doesn't cause sleepiness, such as cetirizine (Children's Zyrtec Allergy, Zyrtec Allergy, others) or loratadine (Alavert, Claritin, others).

Mayo Clinic Minute: Easing the itch of mosquito bites

There are millions of mosquitoes swarming this summer, sucking blood and leaving itchy, red bumps on the skin.

"Their saliva deposits in the skin from where the bite is, and it's causing a reaction to that saliva." Dr. Summer Allen, a Mayo Clinic family physician, says some of the tried-and-true home remedies for treating mosquito bites work well. Calamine lotion, over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream and even a cold compress can ease the itch.

"It's going to soothe and kind of calm down that intense burning and inflammation that they're feeling in their skin."

And, while it's not always easy, it's important to keep the itching to a minimum.

"If they itch it hard enough, or depending on what they use to itch their skin, they can cause a break in their skin. They can develop a bacterial infection."

Although using insect repellent and other prevention tips can reduce your chances of being bit, really, getting at least one skeeter bite this summer is almost inevitable.

"Time takes care of it, and try to do your best not to itch it if you can."

For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Jason Howland.

Preparing for your appointment

You won't need to see your doctor for a mosquito bite unless you develop a fever or other symptoms that sometimes develop after such bites.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • Symptoms you've been having and for how long
  • All medicines, vitamins and supplements you take, including the doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

If you're having signs and symptoms you think might be related to a mosquito bite, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What can I do to stop the itch?
  • Is the area around my mosquito bite infected?
  • Does the medicine you're prescribing have any side effects?
  • How will I know if I need more care?

What you can do in the meantime

If itching is a problem, try a nonprescription, nonsedating antihistamine such as cetirizine (Children's Zyrtec Allergy, Zyrtec Allergy, others).

Oct. 26, 2022
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