How to Tell the Difference Between Cellulitis, Skeeter Syndrome, & Other Mosquito Bite Reactions
Have you ever watched a bump on your arm begin to swell and itch and wonder if you're allergic to mosquito bites, or if the bite is infected? There are major differences between Skeeter syndrome and cellulitis from a mosquito bite, for example. Because these cases are treated differently, it’s important to be able to recognize the differences between mosquito bite allergies and infections.
Infections Caused by Mosquito Bites
Infections enter the body through small bites or through irritated skin, so yes mosquito bites can result in an infection, however, they cannot cause one. Infections are caused by bacteria, usually staph or strep. There are 3 major types: Impetigo, Cellulitis, and Lymphangitis.
- Impetigo is more prevalent in children and causes sores around the nose and mouth.
- Cellulitis causes warm, red or streaked skin, swelling, and tenderness in the infected area. Symptoms of cellulitis may include fever, chills, and swollen glands.
- Lymphangitis will form red streaks as the bacteria enter the lymphatic system and rapidly multiply. Infections happen over time, not instantly and are accompanied by a fever once they set in.
If you feel you have an infection from a mosquito bite, see a doctor right away, and he or she can give you the antibiotics required to treat it.
Mosquito Bite Reactions and Allergies
Mosquitoes DO cause reactions. Some simple and some severe. The common reaction to a mosquito bite is possibly a little swelling with an itchy red bump. Babies and small children tend to have a bigger reaction due to sensitive tissue in their arms and legs, so the swelling can be larger and the color brighter. Even bruising can occur as a result, but this still is a reaction to the bite and not an infection.
What causes these reactions? It is the saliva of the mosquito. When the mosquito bites, it injects its saliva to act as a blood thinner, for the sake of an easy blood meal. It is unclear why some people are allergic to this saliva, but it is known to cause different reactions.
Skeeter syndrome is an extreme allergic reaction to mosquito saliva. Some people may react to a mosquito bite just as people with bee sting allergies do. The swelling can be extreme to the point of blistering, hot, and hard to the touch. Systemic reactions are possible as well, but these are rare. Nausea, hives, swelling of the lips and mouth can occur. It can also come with fever and even anaphylactic shock or asthma. This can be life threatening. Treatment for reactions can be anything from compressions with hot cloths and elevation, cortisone and other topical creams, or oral antihistamines. Those people with known extreme reactions should carry an epinephrine auto-injector or EpiPen. An Epipen will stop immediate loss of airflow, but these types of reactions should send you straight to a hospital.
How Can We Tell the Difference?
Wondering how we can tell the difference between cellulitus and something more serious like Skeeter syndrome? A blog post from Advanced Pediatrics gives us a good example using mosquito bites on the eyelid. When you wake up and your eyelid is swollen shut it can be a very scary moment. However, this can be a minor reaction to a mosquito bite. Fluid can collect easily in the eyelid especially when one is lying down. If you find one eyelid to be light pink, itchy, and terribly swollen but soft to the touch it is most likely a reaction that will subside after some time spent sitting up. An infection would affect both eyes, causing pain, and the color would be much darker. Swelling from an infection is not going to go away after a period of sitting up.
Now that you have a little insight on what causes reactions and infections from mosquito bites, it’s time to educate on prevention. Mosquito Squad of Northeast Florida is the professional mosquito service best equipped to keep your home and yard protected from mosquitoes and ticks.
Call us today at (904) 844-0816 or contact us online to discuss what the best solutions are for your family. We proudly serve Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra, St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, and beyond.