We all know mosquitoes are little vampires out for blood, and they take it and go before you’re even aware you’ve been bitten.
So why do their bites itch for so long after they've had their fill?
First of all, the female mosquitoes are the ones that bite, since they need protein from blood to complete the development of their eggs.
When she lands on you, the mosquito's long, straw-like mouthpart (called a proboscis) pierces the skin and draws blood.
In taking your blood, she leaves you something in return: her spit. The mosquito injects saliva that contains an anticoagulant (a blood thinner) to stop your blood from clotting and make it easier to drink through that proboscis straw.
Your body recognizes this mosquito saliva as a foreign substance, and the immune system responds to the threat by producing histamine as a defense. Histamines are chemicals your immune system produces to get rid of something bothering you.
Histamine sends a signal to the nerves around the bite location, increasing blood flow and white cell count around the area. This causes inflammation and swelling.
These allergy symptoms are a bit of an overreaction, which is why antihistamines like Benadryl are recommended to treat mosquito bites.
Other more natural remedies for itch relief include ice, aloe vera, baking soda (mixed with water to make a paste), oatmeal, apple cider vinegar, witch hazel or an onion slice applied directly to the bite area.
Oh, and you probably can still hear Mom’s voice in the back of your head telling you not to scratch a mosquito bite. Scratching not only makes it worse by making the skin more inflamed; it can also increase the risk of infection if your fingernails break the skin.
To reduce the likelihood of bites, keep mosquitoes from landing on you with a spatial repellent like the RESCUE! Mosquito GoClip®.