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Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch When You Scratch Them?

'Tis the season for mosquitoes and annoying bug bites. If you love to play outside, trail run, hike, or camp, it's inevitable that you'll get your fair share of bites. They're just so itchy, and it seems that when you scratch them, the more they itch.

When the female mosquito stabs her needle-like proboscis into your skin to suck out your blood, she injects you with her saliva. This is filled with digestive enzymes and anticoagulants, and it helps her drink more quickly. Your body reacts to the saliva by producing histamine. This makes the blood vessels near the bite enlarge, and so a pink, swollen, and itchy bump appears.

Since the bite is so itchy, you can't help but scratch it. The problem is, this irritates the bite, which makes it inflamed, and causes it to itch more. The best thing to do is avoid scratching at all costs. Wash the area with soap and water, and apply an anti-itch cream, like Cortaid. I have found that applying an ice pack helps too.


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taratootie taratootie 9 years
I will be trying the garlic and the Mitigaor stuff as well. I usually end up taking an antihistamine, using my 2% Rx cortsone cream and ice packs on them!
taratootie taratootie 9 years
Stupid mast cells!!! Stupid IgE! Ugh... seriously, I would banish mosquitoes if I could. Fold a dollar in half and thats about the size of my bites! I <3 citronella, and have DEET that I put on my clothes on particularly bad nights. I KNOW its bad for you, but its only a little and I need it. I think Ill try that garlic pill and Mitigator stuff! I usually just take an antihistamine and slather on my Rx cortisone cream and use ice packs.
jennjennnbubba jennjennnbubba 9 years
I can usually limit my mosquito bite scratching but try ignoring a horsefly bite!!!
razzberry razzberry 9 years
I honestly haven't had a mosquito bite in the past two years. Maybe it's just been too dry? Are some kinds of skin more susceptible?
staticnoise staticnoise 9 years
right now i have 8 bites at my legs.... 7 just from yesterday's skating -.-
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
My husband has been telling me for years not to scratch my bug bites. If you don't scratch it usually a bump doesn't come up at all and it's gone the next day.
TX-Researcher TX-Researcher 9 years
Mosquitoes can be dangerous but, to most they are only a persistent annoyance. Mosquitoes are parasitic, they hone in on the carbon dioxide we emit while breathing so they are difficult to avoid. It seems to be helpful to wear light colored clothing. DO NOT SCRATCH as this can lead to secondary infections, possible scarring and also open portals to some very nasty bacteria (MRSA aka flesh eating bacteria). My advice is to use a product called Mitigator Sting & Bite Scrub – I did some of the original research on the product while looking for controls for the red imported fire ant and I can attest that it actually removes the toxins or venom. It has baking soda, papain (the active ingredient in meat tenderizer) - to absorb toxins and walnut shell granules to open the pores. Scrubbing with your fingertips substitutes for scratching with your fingernails and since it has no harsh chemicals or foul odors it can be used with children and reapplied as often as needed. This is an excellent product to also use for the treatment of the stings or bites from bees, wasps, fire ants (stops the blistering), ticks, horse flies and chiggers. It was only sold to the military until recently. You can now find it in stores or on the web at: or at:
sugar_me_sweet sugar_me_sweet 9 years
i hate bugs all bugs
red4bonez red4bonez 9 years
anti itch cream is my best friend =)
newlife newlife 9 years
My husband gets terrible welts from mosquito bites, but we make a paste out of meat tenderizer and water, rub it over the bite and let it dry.... for some reason the swelling goes away along with the itching. I swear!!! It works!
emalove emalove 9 years
It's sooooo hard to not scratch though!
pandacn pandacn 9 years
What makes certain types of skin more attractive to mosquitoes than others? If I'm around other people, I always get way more bites than the others. And I have the worst reactions to them too. Not only do the bites itch like crazy, but on certain parts of my body, it makes the area swell too, like around my ankle and anywhere on my feet. And sometimes, the bite turns into a little blister too. I like summer, but I hate mosquitoes.
Baby-Girl Baby-Girl 9 years
i try so hard not to. I apply rubbing alcohol, or witch hazel to the bite.
MindayH MindayH 9 years
Another "homeopathic" approach to mosquito bits is heating a lemon slice (I always do it in a skillet) - make sure that there is enough rind to hold on while you apply to the bite. Make sure that it isn't TOO hot and hold it on for as long as possible. Seems weird, but it works from me. To avoid getting multiple bites - eat lots of garlic or take garlic pills, your blood won't taste as good!
7kimba7 7kimba7 9 years
What is this mytical liquid pen thing? It sounds fab. I just use an alcohol swab. it works better on me than itch cream. plus I don't run the risk of getting goo on the couch.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
The last time I was in the Dominican Republic, I got 8 bites in one night because I was dumb enough to be outside in the dark.
neonbee neonbee 9 years
Oh my, I hate mosquitoes with a passion. Every summer, I go to our cottage and stay in because of them. Anyway, anti-itch creams don't work on me. They just seem to inflame the area more. =/
Jessee Jessee 9 years
Believe it or not, a dab of toothpaste stops the itching.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
ugh...i seem to get bit more than the average person...but i've learned to carry this liquid pen thingy that i can dab on bites when i get them, and it feels better.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
Benadryl cream helps too.
gumdrops334 gumdrops334 9 years
I hate skitos!!
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Damn theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem!!
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