What's Skeeter Syndrome? Allergic Reaction to Mosquito Bites Makes Them Itch Worse

Mosquito bites are pesky and go away within a few days for most people but for some, the bites can cause a long-lasting and extremely uncomfortable reaction. Some people experience what is referred to as "skeeter syndrome" which is caused by the protein in the mosquito's saliva, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Skeeter syndrome is generally identified by the red and swollen reaction that appears after someone gets a mosquito bite, it can sometimes also blister and leave discoloration for weeks on end. Some people experience blistering where the bite is and this reaction can spread to cover whole parts of the body, such as an entire calf or forearm in those with the most severe form of the allergy.

Sometimes the reactions are thought to be cellulitis, an infection of the skin that can happen if the skin is broken or scratched, but research has shown that skeeter syndrome is actually caused by the mosquito saliva itself, and is a reaction, not an infection.

The reactions identified as skeeter syndrome usually appear within hours of the bite, which is too little time for an infection to develop, according to a study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. These reactions are more common in children, people who have moved to a new area or are visiting a new area where they aren't used to the mosquitos and those with poor immune systems, said the study.

Those who suffer from particularly bad bite reactions can take an antihistamine to bring down the swelling and help calm the itching and other symptoms of the allergy. Those with the allergy can also try the treatments that help with any bug bite.

Treatments for mosquito bites include using a lotion or cream to help ease the itching. Non-prescription hydrocortisone creams and calamine lotion can be very helpful for itching, as can a home-made mixture of baking soda and water, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Using ice or a cold compress can also help bring down swelling and soothe any itching around the bite as well. It also helps to not itch the bites, while it can be difficult to avoid itching, it can be key to not making it any worse.

Preventing bites in the first place is key for those who have severe reactions. Wearing long sleeves and pants and a bug spray with an EPA registered insect repellant active ingredient can help keep the bugs away.

aedes-aegypti-mosquito
Aedes aegypti, or Yellow Fever Mosquito, was first detected in Long Beach last year. CDC