5 Unexpected Causes of Mosquito Bites: Blood Group, Clothing and More

While summer is by far my favorite season, fall is a close second. Moderate temperatures and decreased humidity mean I can spend more time outside doing my favorite things: hiking, walking, and spending time at the lake. But the time in nature gets worse immediately when I find myself covered in red, itchy lumps after spending a few minutes outside. Because even though autumn is almost here, the pesky mosquitoes are still active until early November.

If you’re like me, you get frustrated by the number of mosquito bites all over your body, which makes you feel like scratching the skin around the bite until you reach the bone. While the bite alone can be annoying, it’s brutal when I come inside sporting several new bright-red welds, while my friends kindly report they don’t have one.

Why so? Not that we’re particularly unlucky. There are actually scientific reasons why mosquitoes alienate some people. Here’s why mosquitoes bite, and how you can make yourself less of a target this season and beyond. (You may also know how to remove ticks easily without tweezers,

Why do mosquitoes bite?

Contrary to what you might think, mosquitoes don’t bite people for food – they feed on plant nectar. Only female mosquitoes bite, and they do get protein They need your blood to develop their eggs.

Why are some people more prone to bites?

There are several factors that influence why some people are more prone to mosquito bites than others:

blood type

A common belief is that mosquitoes are definitely attracted to blood type, assuming that mosquitoes bite humans for their blood. Blood type is determined by genetics, and each blood type is created based on different sets of specific proteins on the surface of red blood cells, called antigens. There are four main blood types: A, B, AB and O.

While there is no definitive conclusion as to which blood group is more attractive to mosquitoes, several studies have suggested that people with type O are most palatable to mosquitoes. a 2019 Study looked at feeding behavior of mosquitoes when presented with samples of different blood types, and found that mosquitoes fed more from type O feeders than any other. a 2004 study It was also found that mosquitoes descend significantly more on blood group O secretors (83.3%) than on group A secretions (46.5%).

However, these studies are not definitive, and much is still up in the air regarding the preferences of mosquitoes when it comes to blood types.

clothing color

Mosquitoes are highly visible predators when it comes to biting humans. That means movement and dark colors like black, navy and red can stand up to a mosquito. research have shown that mosquitoes are more attracted to black, but there has been little additional research on why this is so.

carbon di oxide

Mosquitoes use sight and smell to find hosts to bite. One of the fastest ways mosquitoes can sniff out a person is through the carbon dioxide we exhale when we breathe. According to research published in the journal chemical sensationMosquitoes use an organ called the maxillary palp to detect carbon dioxide and can feel it from 164 feet away.

Because carbon dioxide is a huge draw, people who emit more of it – older individuals and people who breathe heavily while working – are more attractive to mosquitoes.

body odor and sweating

Mosquitoes are attracted to more substances and compounds than just carbon dioxide. Mosquitoes can bite people by smelling substances on human skin and in sweat, including lactic acid, uric acid, and ammonia.

Researchers are still learning why certain body odors are more attractive to mosquitoes, but they know that genetics, bacteria on the skin and exercise all play a factor. Genetics affect the amount of uric acid excreted, while exercise increases lactic acid buildup.

beer

one in small study, Mosquitoes were seen to land on participants more frequently after drinking a small amount of beer. But before you swear off beer for good, know that there were only 14 participants in the study, and it found that mosquitoes may be more attracted to just people who’ve been drinking beer.

center of woman scratching her hand against a white background

The size and severity of the bite are related to how your immune system reacts to the saliva introduced by the mosquito when bitten.

Suryawat Suriya/IEEM/Getty Images

Why do some people swell more than others from mosquito bites?

Mosquito bites can range in size from small spots to large welts. Why is this the case?

Bites affect people differently. The size and severity of the bite are related to how your immune system reacts to the saliva introduced by the mosquito when bitten. When mosquitoes bite, they inject some saliva while drawing blood. This saliva contains certain anticoagulants and proteins, which trigger the immune system to respond to these foreign substances.

Our body responds by releasing histamine – a chemical that is released by white blood cells when your immune system is fighting off allergens – which causes the itching and swelling of the bite.

Prevention and treatment of mosquito bites

The best way to deal with mosquito bites is not to get them in the first place – but many times, doing so is easier said than done.

Some common ways to avoid mosquito bites include:

  • use repellent and bug spray (Repel, Off! Deep Woods, and other brands that contain DEET)
  • Use natural repellant (citronella) essential oilneem oil, thyme essential oil)
  • Avoid going out in the morning or evening
  • Avoid dark clothing, especially black
  • Avoid standing water and try to eliminate standing water near your home
  • Use a mosquito net when camping or sleeping outside
Several types of bug spray lined up on a table

Repellents are highly effective in preventing mosquito bites.

Amanda Caprito / CNET

Mosquito bites, while annoying, are often not serious and will resolve in a few days. In the meantime, there are several treatments to reduce itching and swelling:

  • Clean with rubbing alcohol on fresh bites
  • take an oatmeal bath
  • Use an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl or Claritin
  • apply a mild corticosteroid cream
  • Use aloe vera to reduce inflammation
  • Try Cold Compress

Although difficult, do your best not to itch the bite as much as possible to prevent any skin reactions or infections.

For more, read about Five smart ways to get rid of mosquitoes this summer, Mosquito Prediction Tool Launched by Google and Off, and How You Can Build Your Own DIY Trap For mosquitoes, hornets and other flying insects.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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