Why Do Mosquito Bites Swell? The Real Reason

Why Do Mosquito Bites Swell? The Real Reason

Buzz… buzz… SMACK!

From the undeniably annoying wispy buzz to the number of life-threatening diseases they carry, there are a ton of valid reasons to hate mosquitoes. But even without the threat of serious illness (or driving us to insanity... ), the pesky insects can make summer an absolute nightmare — especially for our vulnerable children.

As parents, if we had the ability to wave a magic wand and make all the mosquitoes in the world go, POOF — you could probably bet your bottom dollar that we would. 

Of all the critters on the planet, the buzzy-biting bugs are, without a doubt, the worst. And just like water and oil, mosquitoes and kids simply don't mix. 

Why don't they mix, you ask?

Well, think about it for a moment. When your child scrapes their knee, a bandage and a kiss are usually all it takes to stop the waterworks. Within five to 10 minutes or so, your kid is back to playing again. In other words, the painful boo-boo is quickly forgotten.

When Mosquitos Attack

Now, when a mosquito bites your child, on the other hand, what typically happens?

Yes, the inevitable rush of tears is sure to follow suit after a big scary bug lands on their skin, but what happens after the mosquito nips your little one and buzzes away?



And even more itching.    

Regardless of how many times you kiss their ouchie, a bug bite can be overwhelmingly itchy, serving as a constant reminder of getting bitten. 

And unlike a scraped knee that's often quickly forgotten the moment we cover it up with a bandaid, a bite from a pesky mosquito can turn into a huge red welt that can last (and itch) for days.

That being said, why are bug bites so gosh darn itchy? And why do they get so swollen?

We'll tell you. 

Read on as we explore mosquito bites to uncover the real reason they itch and swell. 

Are you ready? 

Let's dive in!

What Happens When a Mosquito Bites? 

Did you know that there are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes roaming the earth? 

While we wouldn't blame you if that shockingly high number sent a chill down your spine (rightfully so), you can take a deep breath because there are only a few that actually bite. 

What's more, it's only the female mosquitoes that suck blood. 

Mosquitoes usually feed on sap and sweet sugary plant nectar, but females require a little more nourishment for reproduction. 

To obtain the nutrients needed, a hungry mosquito will land on an unsuspecting person and leave a bite with their long mouthparts.

Now, to be clear, the icky insect's snout isn't just a single tube but rather a few mouthparts, all working together to quickly suck blood. You see, while one tube takes the blood out, another tube is simultaneously injecting saliva to prevent clotting. 

Once the mosquito is full and happy, she will fly away, leaving nothing behind but her saliva. This is when the immune system kicks into gear, releasing histamine in response to the foreign substance. The release of histamine is a natural defense mechanism the body uses to fight infection and promote healing. 

Every child is different, but in most cases, your little one's body will respond to the uptick in histamine with redness, swelling, and a whole lot of itchiness at the bite site. This red bump is the infamous mosquito bite: aka, every parent's worst nightmare. 

What’s Skeeter Syndrome?

For many of us, a mosquito bite is nothing more than a nuisance — a red bump that usually itches but goes away after a few days.

For others, however, bites from the little suckers can result in many uncomfortable side effects, such as:

  • Unbearably itchy or painful area of redness
  • A large area of swelling measuring two to more than 10 centimeters in diameter
  • Pink and warm to the touch
  • Low-grade fever
  • Marks that look like bruises
  • Tiny blisters near the site of the bite

Sounds pretty terrible, doesn't it? 

Dubbed “skeeter syndrome,” this rare condition is caused by an allergic reaction to a mosquito's bite. While just about anyone can have a mosquito bite allergy, it's most prevalent in kids who haven't developed immunity against the icky insects yet. 

If your child happens to have a mosquito allergy, it can be really nerve-wracking every time they go outside. Just one bite is all it takes, and there could potentially be extreme reactions, including face, tongue, eye, and limb swelling.

What Are Symptoms of Skeeter Syndrome?

In cases of severe allergic reactions, some children can even experience difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical attention. 

Other serious symptoms that call for an emergency response are:

  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness

While skeeter syndrome can certainly be scary, keep in mind that it's quite rare — especially the severe cases (thankfully!). In fact, for most children who have the condition, a visit to the pediatrician is seldom ever needed.

Those most likely to have this reaction to mosquito saliva are those with pre-existing immune system disorders and limited previous experience with these flying pests.

Note that skeeter syndrome is far less dangerous than typical allergies to wasps, bee stings, and spider bites.

As long as your child is breathing normally, doesn't have a high fever, and isn't vomiting, you should probably be A-OK to soothe your little one at home. However, if symptoms persist or get worse after a couple of days — consult the family doctor.  

What Diseases Can Mosquitoes Carry?

The CDC warns that mosquitoes are the deadliest creature on the planet.

Mosquitoes are known to carry these illnesses:

  • Dengue Fever
  • West Nile Virus
  • Malaria
  • Chikungunya

What’s the Best Way To Fix the Itch? 

When kids get attacked by a swarm of hungry mosquitoes, there's really not too much we can do but ~gently~ remind them not to scratch:

"Scratching will only make it worse."

"Don't itch your bug bite."


That being said, despite our very best efforts to keep our little ones from resisting the urge to itch —they're still going to do it. This, however, is a huge no-no. Why? Because itching will only make it worse and can cause a painful infection requiring medical care and a round of antibiotics.

So, what's a parent to do?

Enter: MagicPatch

Our #1 all-natural, non-spray, non-chemical magical relief from itchy boo-boos and bites, our revolutionary Itch Relief Patches are truly one-of-a-kind. Simply place a MagicPatch sticker over your little one's bug bite, and within 30 to 60 seconds, they should begin to feel relief from the itch. 

A perfect addition to any parent's arsenal, our scientifically engineered Grid-Relief Technology has a gentle but powerful strength. The grid creates a micro lift in the skin to help your child's lymphatic system drain the icky biochemicals that cause the itch sensation.

Made with absolutely no chemicals or icky ingredients, MagicPatch is not only effective — but environment-friendly, too! 

Dress for the Occasion

Many people also find it helpful to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked neatly into socks. Not only does this decrease the landing zone for mosquitoes, but it can also discourage ticks as well. Tick bites are known to cause Lyme disease and the Zika virus.

Fight the Bites: The Best Insect Repellent 

So, why do bug bites swell?

When a mosquito bites your child, it injects some of its saliva into the skin, which triggers the immune system to release histamine. It is this histamine that causes not just the swelling, but a case of the itchies, too!

To help reduce the swelling and itchiness, we recommend applying one of our all-natural Itch Relief Patches directly onto your child's bite as soon as you notice it. Within as little as just half a minute of applying MagicPatch, your little one should begin to feel relief from the itch.

The Natural Patch Co: The Powers of Nature

At The Natural Patch Co., we know firsthand what mosquito bites mean for kids. These little ones struggle with the itch, and it can ruin their whole weekend (or more).

And for those with a mosquito allergy, the symptoms are often much worse, which is why it's really no surprise when a child develops a fear of going outside — all to avoid getting bitten!

Designed for your whole family, we made our all-natural repellent patches without any harsh chemicals like DEET or Picaridin. These patches rely on the power of plants to keep hungry mosquitoes at bay. DEET (sometimes known by active ingredient N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) has been linked with seizures and other negative reactions.

To keep your little itch-free and happy while playing outside from dawn to dusk, we suggest arming them with BuzzPatch — a scientifically formulated and tested blend of several kid-friendly essential oils that have been used for hundreds of years to repel mosquitoes. 



Skeeter syndrome | The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Tips to prevent and treat bug bites | American Academy of Dermatology

The Best Ways to Avoid a Mosquito Bite & How to Recover Quickly | UnityPoint

Mosquito Info | The American Mosquito Control Association

Mosquito-Borne Diseases | CDC 

Mosquito Patches for Kids

Mosquito Patches for Kids

A scientifically formulated and tested blend of highly effective, all natural essential oils that have been used for hundreds of years by indigenous communities to repel mosquitos.

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