What Is Skeeter Syndrome?
It’s that time of year when a lot of us are spending more time outside, and we find ourselves a lot more exposed to pesky, itchy mosquito bites. For most of us, if we can resist the urge to claw at the bites, the dots fade, the itching goes away on its own, and the bites are little more than an annoyance. But some people get more severe allergic reactions that can be far more miserable and linger for days; these allergic reactions are sometimes referred to as “skeeter syndrome.”
Skeeter syndrome refers to a significant allergic reaction to mosquito bites. Although most people will have some form of reaction to a mosquito bite, it is usually just an annoyance. However, people with skeeter syndrome are very sensitive to these bites and may develop a fever. It is actually the result of an allergic reaction to proteins in mosquito saliva.
There’s no simple blood test to detect mosquito antibodies in the blood, so mosquito allergy is diagnosed by determining whether the large, red areas of swelling and itching occurred after you were bitten by mosquitoes. The mark is bigger and longer-lasting. Welts can swell from 2 to 10 centimeters in diameter (up to about 4 inches) within an hour of the bite and progress over the next several days.
Clinical examination alone cannot distinguish between a response caused by infection, such as cellulitis, and skeeter syndrome. However, skeeter syndrome usually progresses over the course of hours versus cellulitis, which typically evolves over the course of several days. As such, accurate history is imperative when making the diagnosis. Since IgE and IgG are key players in mosquito allergy, diagnosis can be confirmed by an immunosorbent assay measuring IgE and IgG to mosquito saliva antigens.
There are several treatment options for people with skeeter syndrome. These range from simple home remedies to more involved medical procedures.
Ice and elevation
For a bite that causes a reaction in one small area of the body, start with the simplest form of treatment. Elevating the area and placing an ice pack on it may help reduce inflammation, soothe the sensations of pain and itchiness, and reduce redness.
Apply a lotion, cream or paste
Putting calamine lotion or nonprescription hydrocortisone cream on the bite can help ease the itch. Or try dabbing the bite with a paste made of baking soda and water. Reapply several times daily until your symptoms go away.
There are also things you can do to feel better faster if you do get bitten. An oral antihistamine, like Benadryl, can reduce itching and swelling, and over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream can provide some relief when rubbed directly on the bite.
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