Disclaimer: The following are general guidelines to follow and do not constitute medical advice.
Spring brings with it flowers, pollen, birds and bees! But it also brings pests that are returning from their winter break. For many of us, mosquitoes are a real problem that keeps us from enjoying the outdoors. But more importantly, mosquitoes can carry diseases such as West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus. They can also cause heartworm in dogs. These diseases are very serious but fortunately, rarely directly related to mosquitoes.
In general, the problem with mosquito bites is due to an allergic reaction to the mosquito’s saliva and the problems associated with swelling and scratching of the mosquito bite. When a mosquito bites you they inject saliva which helps keep the blood from clotting. The saliva causes an inflammatory reaction which causes the itching and swelling associated with the bite. Most people just get a big irritating lump on the skin which if they scratch becomes more swollen and lasts longer. But some people actually have an allergic reaction to the mosquito saliva and can become very ill.
For the itching and swelling, anti-histamines are recommended. Diphenhydramine (commonly known as Benadryl – TM) can be used orally or applied in creams or lotions combined with calamine. Anti-inflammatory steroid creams may help too – creams like 1% hydrocortisone.
Interesting Fact: Only female mosquitoes bite and suck blood to obtain protein for their eggs; male mosquitoes suck nectar.
Even if you don’t get sick from the mosquito, many people scratch their bites until they bleed. When the skin is open it is susceptible to secondary infection. Children and adults can get a skin infection called impetigo which is a superficial skin infection caused by bacteria called staph and strep. Impetigo causes open sores and crusting (honey colored) and swelling in the areas. Impetigo is usually worse in the summer when children are out playing in the dirt, getting bitten by mosquitoes, and then getting those sores infected. Excellent hygiene (SOAP and WATER) can prevent most impetigo and cure mild cases. Over the counter antibiotic ointments (like Bacitracin) can help too as well as prescription ointments like mupurocin. There may be enlarged glands in the area, fever, and a spreading rash. Usually more severe impetigo needs an oral antibiotic so contact your doctor if you think you have impetigo and need medicine for it.
Man’s best friend can be affected with heartworms which are also transmitted by mosquitoes. So protect your entire family against these pests.
The best prevention is to eliminate mosquitoes from your environment. Since this is virtually impossible to do completely, several strategies should be employed:
- Be sure to get rid of any standing water around your home to avoid breeding areas for the mosquitoes. Old tires are notorious for having water inside of them so be sure to get rid of any tires in or around the yard.
- Call “Hole-in-One Pest Solutions”. Their Mosquito Reduction Program is a 7 month program which sprays the shrubs, bushes and plants where mosquitoes and ticks like to hide. This will greatly reduce the mosquito and tick population in your yard and will act as a barrier and repellent for any stray mosquitoes that fly into the area.
- By wearing long pants, long sleeve shirts, hats and socks you can protect yourself from mosquitoes and their bites.
- Also, use of insect repellents is a good idea. There are many products on the market; but the most popular is DEET. DEET contains repellents and comes in many different forms and concentrations.
- Screened in porches, mosquito netting and other barriers are helpful too.