Why do bites itch… and how to stop them!

Being bitten by insects, at the best of times, is incredibly annoying. Have you ever wondered why it is that one tiny little bite can cause such a burning desire to scratch until you can scratch no more?

Only female mosquitoes bite and when a female mosquito ‘bites’ you, she is actually not biting you at all. What happens is this: the large needle-like mouthpart, called a proboscis, pierces your skin when she lands on you looking for a blood vessel and when she does, sucks out some blood and in return leaves behind a little of her saliva. This then acts as an anticoagulant and allows her to feast more efficiently. As our bodies have a natural immune response to the foreign mosquito saliva, it creates histamines causing the skin around the bite to itch.

Histamine is a nitrogen compound that triggers an inflammatory response; it also helps white blood cells and other proteins to fight invaders in your body. Aedes_aegypti_biting_human

Basically, the histamine ends up making the blood vessels near the bite swell up and produce an itchy bump around the area of the mosquito bite.

A mosquito bite doesn’t always itch right away, and sometimes don’t even itch at all! Some poor folk, who have a tendency to be bitten frequently over an extended period of time, develop a tolerance to mosquito saliva, creating a sort of immunity to bites! Sadly, this is not the case for everyone, and if you stop being bitten for a period of time, when you next get bitten the tolerance will most likely wear off and the itching will resume. There are a variety of horror stories about people’s reactions to bites, but sadly some people are biologically more inclined to react more violently. This has to do with our individual differences in our immune system says Tim Geary, director of the institute of Parasitology at McGill University , and those who react more are simply producing more histamine once they have been bitten.


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There are many myths about the most effective way to combat the infernal itch that being nibbled presents, and I am going to share a few with you today. It is rumoured that rubbing raw garlic cloves onto the bitten area can be known to reduce the itching. Be careful not to rub it directly onto the open site, as this can cause stinging! Other remedies include rubbing honey, cider vinegar or even toothpaste on the bites, however none of these have any concrete evidence to support the efficacy.

If you want a fail safe (less smelly!) option, the incognito® Zap-Ease bite relief, is the simplest, most effective and harmless way of stopping the itch that comes from a bite. ‘Clicking’ the zap-ease several times around the area that has been bitten has the effect of localising the poison, the toxicity of the bite becomes neutralised with no harmful effect on the skin, thus reducing the swelling and irritation caused. It also induces a release of endorphins, which assist in the minimising of the pain.

Davis, Jackie. “Why Do Some People React More to Bug Bites?” Cottage Life RSS. Blue Ant Media Publisher. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.

Why Do Kirschner, Chanie. “Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?” MNN. MNN HOLDING COMPANY, 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.

Mosquito Bites Itch?” CuriosityAroused.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.

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