SKEETER SYNDROME: Symptoms and Treatment
Skeeter syndrome is an allergic reaction caused solely by mosquito Bites. For those who may not know what mosquitos are, Mosquitoes are flying insects known for biting and sucking of blood. Just like the Flea life cycle, the life cycle of mosquitos requires the female mosquito to suck blood for egg production.
When the female mosquito injects its syringe like proboscis (an elongated tube from the head) into the skin, it releases its saliva into the blood stream because the human blood is too thick for a mosquito to extract. With the presence of this saliva in the blood stream a reaction occur which results in swelling and itching.
This adverse reaction is as a result of an anti coagulant which the mosquito injects into the skin to prevent blood clotting. Individuals who suffer from skeeter syndrome experience very worse reactions as a result of this bite.
While the bite is not the cause but the protein which is injected by the mosquito while it bites. The presence of protein and other various substances in the mosquito’s saliva are said to be the allergen.
Allergic reactions to the mosquito bites depend solely on the rate of the bites and the amount of time it took place. Some of the reactions are felt immediately or in a short period after the bite. Individuals who do not have any prior experience of allergic reactions to mosquito bites are known to develop skeeter syndrome symptoms quickly.
Individuals who do not have past experience of mosquito allergies might also develop skeeter syndrome when visiting another state or country because different species of mosquitoes exist and their saliva contains different kinds of enzymes. So it is possible to be allergic to some species while having little or no allergic reactions to other mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide produced by breathing and pregnant women are targets because they exhale more carbon dioxide than average adults. Mosquitoes also get drawn to people with highly concentrated acidic sweat and the blood type O.
Skeeter syndrome is not contagious and it is also called papular urticaria.
Symptoms of Skeeter syndrome
People who spend a lot of time outdoors are more prone to mosquito bites and also, people with low immunity or immunodeficiency might get adverse reactions when bitten by mosquitoes although immunity improves with age. Children, toddlers and seniors are mostly affected with skeeter syndrome as they have little immunity against mosquitoes so parents should ensure that their children are well protected from mosquito bites especially the allergic ones.
Skeeter syndrome symptoms may include the following;
- Extreme swelling, redness, itching and large blisters.
- Fever and sometimes anaphylaxis (a constriction of the trachea which prevents breathing)
- Cellulitis (an inflammation of a connective tissue caused by a bacterial infection). This occurs when the bite has been opened due to scratching.
- Discharge from the opening of the bite.
However, if symptoms persist for seven days then you need to see your doctor and also when experiencing cases like breathing difficulties, swelling of a body part, gasping for breath and blistering of the skin.
It is advisable to resist the urge to scratch in order not to make the reaction severe.
Home Remedies for Skeeter syndrome
There are many medications and household remedies to reduce the itching caused by skeeter syndrome such as:
- Aspirin: crush and add water to make an anti-itching paste.
- Anti allergy drugs like Benadryl or oral anti histamines can be used.
- Apple cider vinegar: it is acidic and relieves swelling by applying directly on affected areas for some minutes before rinsing off.
- Lemon or lime juice: lemons are capable of doing many things to our health. Due to their level of acidity, they help in relieving itching. Applying lemon juice on the bite also helps in fighting infections
- Table salt should be rubbed after moistening the bite. This will hurt a little bit.
- Dab peppermint toothpaste: peppermint has cooling effect. This should be applied for a few minutes before washing off.
- Banana peel: the pulpy inside surface of banana peel should be rubbed on the area.
- Lavender oil and tea tree oil should be mixed and applied on the affected areas. This method should be avoided for children under two as it may cause skin irritation.
- Baking soda: baking soda is an alkaline and can help reduce itching. A teaspoon of baking soda should be mixed with water to form a paste then applied to the bite. Leave for some minutes before rinsing with warm water.
- Calendula: apply calendula ointment on the affected areas. It has soothing and moisturizing properties.
- Applying heat can also provide relief by eliminating the toxins produced from the reaction between the mosquito’s saliva and antibodies.
- When anaphylaxis is involved, hospital admission is mandatory.
Here are some mosquito bite prevention tips that can also help prevent Skeeter syndrome;
- Apply mosquito repellant creams before going out.
- Wear long sleeves, pants when outdoors to leave your skin less exposed.
- Mosquitoes only need little water to breed, so always remove stagnant water and avoid activities near them.
- Insects are attracted to strong scents, if you are visiting places infested with mosquitoes it is advisable to go without your perfume or cologne.
- Make sure your windows and doors fit properly to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
- Keep swimming pools free from dirt and treated.
- Mosquitoes are most active at sunrise and sunset, try to avoid outdoor activities at that time.
- Use mosquito nets when camping.