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The Science Behind Mosquito Bites & Why they Itch So Much

Why Mosquitoes Bite

Have you ever wondered why mosquitoes bite? Maybe you know someone who is constantly dealing with mosquito bites, and someone who rarely ever complains about it. Why do mosquitoes seem to prefer some people to others?

Female mosquitoes bite because they need blood as a source of protein in order to develop fertile eggs. Male mosquitoes do not bite since they don’t lay eggs.

The most commonplace for mosquitoes to bite is the ankle. You might think it is an easy target because you aren’t as likely to see them there. While this is true, there is another reason. Mosquitoes are attracted to any of the approximately 400 different chemical compounds on your skin. The bacteria that mosquitoes are most attracted to happen to be very plentiful on the skin covering your feet and ankles, and because ankles are often exposed in warmer months, they make an easy target for those pesky bugs.

Mosquitoes also have preferences for whom they bite based on these chemical compounds since each person has a unique chemical makeup, some of which are more attractive to mosquitoes’ sense of smell. Mosquitoes are also attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale, the heat and body odor we exude, and amino acids. This is the reason why some people are more prone to mosquito bites than others. Pregnant women are also more likely to be attractive to mosquitoes, perhaps because of chemical changes during pregnancy.

Why does a mosquito bite itch?

The itchiness and irritation we sometimes experience after a mosquito has bitten us is caused by an immune reaction to the mosquito’s saliva. Histamine increases the white blood cell count and blood flow in the area, which results in swelling and inflammation. Some people are more susceptible than others to feeling discomfort after a bite.

What should I do if I’m bitten?

  • Avoid scratching the affected area, as this will likely increase the inflammation and risk of infection.
  • Clean the area with soap and water in order to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Use a cold compress to help reduce the inflammation.
  • Try applying an antihistamine cream to help relieve pain and itching.
  • There are also bug bite extractants that work like a vacuum to remove the saliva.

How can I prevent mosquito bites?

Your best line of defense against mosquito bites is to be proactive.

  • Get rid of any standing water around your home or yard, if possible.
  • Wear proper clothing to protect yourself. Thicker fabrics and looser fits offer better protection against mosquitoes and other bugs than thin clothes that fit tightly.
  • When sleeping outdoors or indoors in areas where mosquitoes may be persistent, use mosquito netting or a tent to keep them away.
  • Try a natural mosquito spray like Best Bee Brothers Natural Insect Repellent.

Looking for more ways to prevent mosquitoes? Here are 24+ Ways to Repel Mosquitoes