Are some people more susceptible to mosquito bites than others?

This story is part of home tipsCNET’s collection of practical tips for making the most of your home, inside and out.

Summer is by far my favorite season of the year. I love the warm temperatures, the longer sunny days and the opportunity to spend more time at the lake. But my love for the season quickly ends when I end up covered in red, itchy lumps after spending just a few minutes outdoors.

If you’re like me, you get frustrated by the number of mosquito bites littering your body, leaving you itchy skin around the bite all the way down to the bones. While the bites alone can be annoying, it is downright annoying when I come inside wearing several new bright red spots while my friends scream how they don’t have one.

why is that? It’s not that we are not particularly lucky. There are actually scientific reasons why mosquitoes single out certain people. Here’s exactly why mosquitoes bite, and how you can make yourself less of a target this summer. (You can also find out How to remove ticks easily without tweezers.)

Read also: Best Insect Sprays for 2022

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 so to receive proteins from your blood needed to develop their eggs.

Why are some people more prone to bites?

There are several factors that influence why some people are bitten by mosquitoes more than others:

clothes color

Mosquitoes are a very visual hunter when it comes to finding a human to bite. This means that dark movement and clothing colors such as black, dark blue and red can stand out to mosquitoes. Research has shown that mosquitoes are more attracted to black, but there has been little additional research into why this is so.

Carbon Dioxide

Mosquitoes use sight and smell to find hosts to bite. One of the fastest ways that a human mosquito can smell is through the carbon dioxide released when we breathe. According to research published in the journal Chemical Senses, mosquitoes use an organ called the maxillary palpation to detect carbon dioxide and can feel it from 164 feet away.

Because carbon dioxide is such a big attraction, the people who emit it the most—bigger individuals and people who have difficulty breathing during exercise—are more attractive to mosquitoes.

Body odor and sweat

Mosquitoes are attracted to more substances and compounds than just carbon dioxide. Mosquitoes can find people biting by smelling substances on human skin and 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 genes, bacteria on the skin, and exercise all play a factor. Genetic factors affect the amount of uric acid released, while exercise increases lactic acid buildup.

blood type

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

Although there are no firm conclusions about which blood type is most attractive to mosquitoes, several studies have indicated that people with type O have the most appetite for mosquitoes. A 2019 study observed the feeding behavior of mosquitoes when presented with different blood type samples, and found that mosquitoes fed more type O feeding than any other species. A 2004 study also found that mosquitoes land on blood group O secretions (83.3%) significantly more than on group A secretions (46.5%).

However, these studies are not definitive, and there is still a lot of talk about mosquito preferences when it comes to blood type.

beer

In a small study, mosquitoes were observed landing on participants more frequently after they drank a small amount of beer. But before you swear by beer forever, know that the study only included 14 participants, and found that mosquitoes may be only marginally more attracted to beer drinkers.

The size and severity of the bite is related to how your immune system responds to the saliva that the mosquito enters when it is bitten.

Suriyawut Suriya / EyeEm / Getty Images

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

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

Bites affect people differently. The size and severity of the bite is related to how your immune system responds to the saliva that the mosquito enters when it is bitten. When a mosquito bites, it injects some saliva when blood is drawn. This saliva contains some anticoagulants and proteins, which stimulate the immune system to respond to these foreign substances.

Our body responds by releasing histamine – a chemical released by white blood cells when your immune system fights an allergen – causing itching and stinging.

Prevention and treatment of mosquito bites

The best way to deal with a mosquito bite is not to get it in the first place – but often that’s easier said than done.

Some common ways to prevent mosquito bites include:

  • Use insect repellent and bug sprays (Repel, Off! Deep Woods and other brands that contain DEET)
  • Use a natural insect repellent (citronella essential oilneem oil, thyme essential oil)
  • Avoid going out at dawn or dusk
  • Avoid dark colored clothes, especially black
  • Avoid standing water and try to get rid of standing water near your home
  • Use the mosquito net when camping or sleeping outdoors
Several kinds of insect spray are lined up on the table

Insect repellents are very effective in preventing mosquito bites.

Amanda Caprito/CNET

Although mosquito bites are annoying, they are often not severe and will go away in a few days. Meanwhile, there are several treatments to relieve itching and inflammation:

  • Clean with rubbing alcohol if it’s a new bite
  • Take a bath of oatmeal
  • Use an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl or Claritin
  • Apply mild corticosteroid creams
  • Use aloe vera to reduce inflammation
  • Try cold compresses

Although it can be difficult, try as much as possible not to itch the sting too badly to prevent any kind of skin reaction or infection.

For more information, read about 5 smart ways to get rid of mosquitoes this summer, mosquito prediction tool Launched by Google and Off, and how can you Make traps yourself For mosquitoes, wasps and other flying pests.

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

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