Mosquito bites are not usually painful, but the itchiness that follows a bite can cause some discomfort. There are simple ways you can keep safe and avoid some of the health risks associated with mosquito and midge bites.
How to Avoid Mosquito Bites
There is a greater risk of bites when you are outdoors and from dusk into night when many biting insects are most active.
Luckily, there are ways you can keep safe when you are out and about.
- Avoid bright colours - Do not wear bright colours or use strong scents such as perfumes and deodorants as these attract insects.
- Reduce exposed skin - Wear long sleeves, trousers, footwear and hats.
- Use insect repellent sprays - On exposed skin and repelling products or candles when sitting.
- Avoid areas with water - Keep clear of slow moving or still / stagnant water.
- Tuck trousers into socks - When hiking through brush or rough grass and avoid brushing through long grass or bushes.
Treatments for Mosquito Bites
The main risk from mosquito bites is the potential skin irritation.
Reaction to bites will vary from person to person. Symptoms that develop are just our immune system’s response to their saliva. Mosquitoes don’t actually inject anything into us when they bite.
- Clean the wound - this is the most important treatment for a mosquito or midge bite.
- Remove the sting - if any insect debris has been left in the wound, remove carefully with fingernails or tweezers. Then clean the bite using soap and water or alcohol wipes.
- Use a cold compress - swelling can be reduced immediately after a bite by covering it with a cold compress such as ice in a cloth (but never hold ice directly on the skin). It may take more than a week to go down and may remain itchy for several days.
- Take anti-histamines - itchiness and swelling can be relieved with anti-histamine creams for bites and stings. Oral anti-histamine (“hayfever tablets”) can also help especially if you have multiple bites.
- Do not scratch - avoid scratching as this will increase the itch and could lead to the bite becoming infected by bacteria.
Are you worried about your reaction to a bite?
Young children and those with repeated bites are more likely to develop a severe reaction.
Consult a doctor if:
- The swelling or pain is so severe that it prevents movement or sleeping.
- The swelling continues to worsen more than a day after the bite.
- The bite appears to be infected.
Call an ambulance immediately if a bite causes swelling to the throat, mouth or tongue that restricts breathing.