Along with summer's hot
days and warm nights come a marked increase in mosquitoes.
And there’s only one thing worse than that
tell-tale whine in the darkness, and that’s the infuriating itch that follows
a mosquito bite.
For some people however, a mosquito bite is far
more than an irritation; some people have what’s called Skeeter Syndrome, or an allergy to mosquito saliva which can trigger a far more impressive
reaction to a mosquito bite than it would in other people.
According to Dr Sarah Karabus, a Cape Town Paediatrician
and Allergologist practicing at Thriving Kids, Christiaan Barnard Memorial
Hospital, Skeeter Syndrome is actually far more common than you would think.
bite allergy is an extremely common occurrence and is something I
see every day at work,” she said.
The allergy is
relatively easy to identify as it presents with unusually large swelling
accompanied with severe itching, sometimes blistering and fever and in extreme cases,
Although most people have a reaction to a mosquito bite,
the bites on people who have Skeeter Syndrome resemble a bee sting with extreme swelling.
Read: Why mosquitoes love you and how to repel them
The cause of Skeeter Syndrome
The syndrome is
caused by an allergy to a thinning agent in the mosquito’s saliva and the reaction can sometimes take up to 48
hours to fully develop.
Although it is most
common in young children and toddlers, there have been cases of adults with no
previous adverse reaction to mosquito bites, developing the condition.
cause for this is not yet known although it could be due to the many different species
of mosquito which all have slightly different enzymes in their saliva.
Read:All about insect bite allergies
According to Dr
Karabus the best thing to do is to try avoid being bitten by a mosquito if you
are allergic. She suggests taking as many precautions as possible such as
sleeping under a mosquito net, using mosquito repellent sprays/creams/vapours.
However if you do
suffer from a mosquito bite allergy and you do get bitten, Dr Karabus advises
your best course of action is to take an antihistamine and apply a topical
cortisone cream to alleviate the itch and swelling.
The good news, she
says, is that people do often out-grow this allergy in one to two years. If you
are concerned you or your child may have this allergy, contact an allergist for
Insect bites from Natural Standard
What’s making your skin itch?
How to manage insect bites
Sarah Karabus, a Cape Town Paediatrician and Allergologist practicing at Thriving
Kids, Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital