It's nearly summer and that means longer days, warm evenings, and mosquitos. To most people, these pests are simply that—pests. Mosquitos are pests that are responsible for redness, swelling, and itching. But for people who are allergic to mosquito bites, it can be more than just a minor irritation. It requires a visit to your local health care clinic. In certain rare cases, a mosquito bite can even be life-threatening.

Mosquito Bite Basics

In the mosquito world, the female is the one who bites. She bites to get a blood meal, which allows her to lay her eggs. While she is biting and feasting, she also secretes a small amount of saliva into the victim's skin. The body reacts to a certain protein in the saliva, which causes swelling, redness, and the characteristic itching. In most people, that irritating itching is all that results. However, for people who are allergic to the protein, the bite can be more troublesome.

Allergic Reactions

If you are one of the unlucky ones who have a mosquito bite allergy, also called "skeeter syndrome,"  a bite may cause a large swollen area around the bite, very intense itching, rash, blisters, fever, or swollen lymph glands. Severely allergic people may experience anaphylaxis, which can cause airways to shrink and make breathing difficult. People with asthma may have worse symptoms, as well as people who are immunocompromised.

Treatment and Prevention

Topical medications such as calamine lotion can help stop the itch of mosquito bites, for severe allergic reactions and anaphylaxis, you'll need to see a physician. Once you've been diagnosed with a mosquito bite allergy, you should develop a plan for treatment and prevention. Your doctor may prescribe and recommend you carry an EpiPen anywhere you might come in contact with mosquitos. The device will deliver medication to open your airways. He or she might also prescribe daily oral medications or a series of allergy shots that reduce the severity of an allergic reaction.

It's also important for people with allergies to limit exposure by staying indoors at dusk or dawn, when mosquitos are most active, and staying away from mosquito-infested areas, such as tall grass and standing water. Don't wear lotions and perfume and always wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts while outside. And of course, apply a mosquito repellent containing DEET on any exposed skin before going outside.

But even if you do not suffer from mosquito bite allergies, there are reasons to avoid mosquitos. Mosquitos can transmit diseases such as West Nile virus, and bites can become infected from scratching them. So take precautions and avoid the itch.

For more information, contact a health care center in your area such as People's Community Clinic of Newberg.