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Is It Skeeter Syndrome?

Here’s everything you need to know about allergic reactions to mosquito bites, including what to do about them.

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 is a relatively rare inflammatory reaction to mosquito bites, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Symptoms may develop hours after a mosquito bite and can include a large area of swelling, heat, redness, itching, and pain that mimics what would happen with an infection.

Here’s how to tell if skeeter syndrome is happening to you, and what to do about it:

Normal Mosquito Bites These can trigger immediate swelling and redness that peaks after about 20 minutes, followed by small itchy bumps that are usually less than 2 centimeters (about ¾ inch) in diameter, says Catherine Newman, MD, a dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Skeeter Syndrome 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, Dr. Newman says. Bumps can be itchy, red, painful, and warm to the touch.

“Skeeter syndrome is the result of an allergic reaction to proteins in mosquito saliva,” Newman says. “There is no simple blood test to detect mosquito antibodies in blood, so mosquito allergy is diagnosed by determining whether the large red areas or swelling and itching occur after you’re bitten by mosquitoes.”

Continue reading Lisa Rapaport's piece on Skeeter Syndrome, which includes CDC recommended preventative measures, here.

LAST UPDATED

May 7, 2022

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