The mosquitoes have been around for more than 30 million years and over the period of time they have honed their skills and have developed a number of sensors to track the preys. They are equipped with chemical sensors that can detect carbon dioxide and lactic acid at distances as far as 100 feet. Mammals and other living organisms produce these gases as part of normal breathing. Chemicals in the sweat too attract the mosquitoes. This is the reason that people who sweat less get bitten less by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes also have visual sensors and if they can spot a moving organism, they take their chances and zero in on the prey. Lastly, mosquitoes also have heat sensors which can help then sense a warm blooded mammal close by.
The female mosquito lands on the skin and inserts its proboscis into the skin. A proboscis is very sharp and extremely thin. This is the reason as why one does not normally feel it going in. The saliva of the female mosquito contains proteins in the form of anticoagulants that prevent the blood of the victim from clotting. With the help of the proboscis, the mosquito sucks in about 5 micro-liters of blood into its abdomen.
After the bite, some saliva of the mosquito remains on the wound. The proteins present in the saliva evoke an immune response in the body. The area that is bitten swells up and is called the wheal. The itch is the response that is provoked by the saliva. After some time, the swelling goes away but the bitten area will continue to itch until the immune cells of the body break down the saliva proteins.
Treating Mosquito Bites
Defense is the best form of treatment here. Take adequate precautions to ensure that you are not bitten by a mosquito. But if you have been bitten, then here are some home remedies that you can use to reduce the swelling and the itch:
- Wash the infected area with soap and water immediately after you have been bitten. Wipe the site clean and try to keep it dry until the irritation reduces. Remember not to scrub the skin. Soak the area and then pat dry it.
- Avoid scratching the bitten area. A mosquito bite normally heals in a couple of days but continuous scratching can delay the healing process.
- Make a sticky paste with baking soda and water and apply it over the bitten area.
- Apply an ice pack wrapped in a piece of cloth over the bitten area. This provides instant relief.
- Using calamine lotion or a tropical anesthetic that contains pramoxine helps relieve both the pain and itch.
- Apply Aloe Vera gel over the area that has been bitten by the mosquito. Aloe Vera also forms a protective layer which prevents the spread of infection.
- A very commonly used home remedy is to rub soap directly on the bite.
Mosquitoes are the deadliest vector known to man and spread bacterial as well as viral diseases. Some of the most common diseases spread by a mosquito bite are:
- Malaria: is caused by a parasite that is spread by the Anopheles mosquito. The symptoms include fever, chills, headache and general malaise. Malaria is a fatal disease but can be treated with anti-malarial drugs.
- Yellow Fever: is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The symptoms are similar to malaria and also include jaundice, nausea and vomiting. There is no treatment for yellow fever and only the symptoms can be treated. It is controlled by vaccination and mosquito control.
- Encephalitis: is caused by a virus that is spread by the Aedes mosquito. The symptoms include high fever, headache, confusion, stiff neck and sleepiness.
- Dengue Fever: is caused by a parasite that is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito in the tropical region and by the Asian tiger in Asiatic regions. This disease produces a range of illness varying from viral flu to hemorrhagic fever.