When the weather begins to warm up, you can expect to find annoying mosquitoes appearing around lots of places. The actual bite is not the problem, but the nasty itchy bump that is left on your skin which can drive you nuts, is a problem. The question is “Why is it so itchy?”
Personally, I hate them, every year I seem to be the designated mosquito and midge magnet, oh, there’s the blackflies/horse flies as well, they love me too. I’m always looking for the best way to keep myself protected, and it’s often a hard thing to do.
On my shelf next to me here at Outdoor Revival HQ, I’ve got four different types of insect repellant, spray, cream and a wax type one made from natural ingredients, it’s a bit like a balm. I’ve got 100% kill the lot of them through to keeps them away for the most part, and I use them all.
Only female mosquitoes suck blood because they need the nutrients from your blood to grow their eggs. If you get close enough to a mosquito to tell the difference between the male and female ones, you will see that the males have antennae that look feathery while those on the female are plain without the hairy covering.
So do not worry if a mosquito with “hairy” antennae is about, it is the other ones you should avoid!
The way that mosquitoes “bite” is not with teeth: the female mosquito injects her proboscis into the skin of her victim (all too often that’s me!). Once she finds a blood vessel, she releases a type of saliva (which is an anticoagulant which stops the blood clotting) while she takes what she needs. A typical “serving” is about three milligrams of blood. Humans can easily spare this small amount, but the problem is our reaction to the saliva.
The enzymes and proteins in the saliva cause the body to release histamines to deal with a foreign substance. This is a natural response from the immune system to allergens. There are other types of substances which cause this reaction too, such as pollen or plant prickles.
Histamines cause the itchy bumps. These bumps are also sometimes called wheals. The blood vessels around the “bite” swell and become inflamed, and this causes an itch.
In some parts of the world, mosquitoes carry nasty diseases such as Malaria Encephalitis, Zika virus and the West Nile virus. Millions of people die from these diseases every year. If you happen to be in an area where these diseases are known, it is good to know that the mosquitoes are around. The itch says, warning BEWARE! You’ve been bitten.
If you are somewhere that mosquitoes do carry disease, then you should make sure that you’re familiar with the symptoms of the diseases and watch out for them. If there’s any indication that you’ve contracted a disease, you will need to go to the doctors straight away so you can be tested and treated if needed.
Antihistamines can help to minimize the swelling and itching. Ice, apple cider vinegar, and aloe can help reduce the reaction.
The best preventative is to avoid being bitten at all. You can try to “cover up”, but because mosquitoes are there because of the warm weather, this is not always practical. Besides, stubborn mosquitoes have been known to get under clothes or even sometimes bite through them. Mosquito nets do help, but these can limit your movement.
Wearing tightly woven or multi layered clothing can definitely limit your chances of getting bitten, sure it’s a little inconvenient at times, but the alternative is serious. Good clothing combined with repellents is a great combination.
There are a lot of repellents you can use to discourage these nasty blood suckers, it’s available in the shops or online. You can also try natural solutions like citronella oil, or a USDA certified organic anti-bug badger balm which is made from various oils. There is also a product which comes as a spray or lotion called Biteblocker.
It’s worth seeing what works best for you, there are chemical repellants that are near enough guaranteed to work, but they’re not that kind to your skin, or plastics for that matter. Some repellants can be applied to your clothing which is a good way of doing it, then you can just apply creams or spray to any exposed areas like ankles, neck, hands, and face.
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