Are you a tasty, juicy morsel for a mosquito's dinner? What makes one person more susceptible to bites than another? How can the annoying itch be avoided? Summer time means mosquito time. Instead of becoming a sitting target, ready to be "eaten alive", understand mosquito characteristics and fight back.
Some people do seem to be more attractive to mosquitoes than others, but no one really knows why. They seem to prefer males to females and young people to old. Mosquitoes seek out body warmth, moisture and the carbon dioxide in exhaled breath. They are also attracted by odor, including certain compounds found in perspiration.
Only a female mosquito bites, needing the amino acids found in human and other animal blood to make the protein for producing her eggs. Protein in a mosquito's saliva causes the itching sensation. All human beings develop a sensitivity to these proteins and recognize them as an "allergen." Fortunately, mosquitoes don't produce the allergic reaction that other insects can. Mosquito saliva may contain bacteria or viruses that cause diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis. Most of these are rare in this country.
Mosquitoes thrive in water so make your yard less habitable by removing stagnant water from clogged pipes, old tires, birdbaths, and areas where drainage is poor. To prevent bites, avoid spending time outside at dawn or dusk. Wear long-sleeved shirts that fit at wrists, and wear long pants tucked into boots or socks. If it is too hot for long sleeves, protect yourself with insect repellents that contain a substance called DEET.
Once bitten, avoid scratching so that the bite will heal faster. Topical preparations that contain antihistamines should be avoided because when applied topically, antihistamines can cause allergic reactions beneath and on the skin. Use plain calamine lotion and/or a cold compress instead. If an infections does develop, contact your physician.
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