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What is Skeeter Syndrome?

For most people, mosquito bites are itchy and uncomfortable. If you’re allergic, bites can leave larger welts that can be painful and tend to last longer. Skeeter Syndrome is a relatively rare inflammatory reaction to mosquito bites, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. 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 fever and more serious reactions to the bite.

What causes Skeeter Syndrome?

People with Skeeter Syndrome are allergic to the proteins in mosquito saliva. Although most people are allergic to these proteins to some degree, people with Skeeter Syndrome have a more severe reaction than others. Some people may be more likely to experience Skeeter Syndrome, such as those who are allergic to stinging pests. People with weaker immune systems, such as young children and older adults, may also have a stronger reaction to mosquito bites.

Normally, the human body builds up immunity to certain allergens over time. Because of this, children may have more severe reactions to mosquito bites than adults, as their bodies have not had time to build this immunity yet.

What are the symptoms of Skeeter Syndrome vs. typical mosquito bites?

The effects of a mosquito bite usually disappear within a few days. But with Skeeter Syndrome, the symptoms are more intense and last significantly longer.

Normal Mosquito Bite Reactions

Those who don’t have Skeeter Syndrome will experience immediate swelling and redness that peaks after about 20 minutes, followed by small itchy bumps that are usually less than about ¾ inch in diameter and disappear within a few days.

Skeeter Syndrome Reaction to Mosquito Bites

The bite mark is bigger and longer lasting than normal bites. 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. Bumps can be itchy, red, painful, and warm to the touch. Generally, the local reaction progresses over 8-12 hours or more and can take several weeks for symptoms to resolve.

Is Skeeter Syndrome dangerous?

For many people, getting a mosquito bite is a minor nuisance and causes a small, itchy bump that goes away after a few days, but Skeeter Syndrome can cause severe allergic reactions and in extreme conditions, anaphylaxis.

How rare is Skeeter Syndrome?

Skeeter Syndrome is rare, but some people are more likely to get it than others. Those most susceptible to Skeeter Syndrome are babies and children as they have lower immunity than adults who have been bitten by mosquitoes. If a person has had mosquito bite exposures, they become less sensitive to the mosquito’s saliva, so severe types of reactions like Skeeter Syndrome are not very common.  

How do you treat Skeeter Syndrome?

Should Skeeter Syndrome be suspected, contact a doctor. Typical treatments usually include:

  • Taking oral antihistamines and over-the-counter pain relievers/fever reducers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen if you have pain or fever, or both.

  • Covering the mosquito bite with hydrocortisone cream.

  • If a severe case of Skeeter Syndrome is involved, your doctor may prescribe systemic steroids.

How do I prevent mosquito bites?

Mosquito repellent and clothing that covers exposed skin are the first steps to protecting yourself and preventing mosquitoes. Keeping windows closed and not allowing standing water to accumulate outdoors can also help reduce the nearby mosquito population and prevent bites. If possible, avoid being outside when mosquitoes tend to be most active - dawn, dusk, or during the day if day-biting mosquitoes are present. To make sure your home and business are protected from potentially harmful mosquitoes, call your local Orkin branch for personalized mosquito control treatment.

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