One is completely punctured and the other has nothing to do with it. How can you prevent a mosquito bite? And what helps against the itching of a mosquito bite?Door Naomi Defoer
About 35 mosquito species live in the Netherlands, according to medical entomologist and vector biologist Bart Knols who specializes in mosquitoes and malaria. The most well-known species is the house mosquito. Only the females bite, but both sexes ‘buzz’.
When a female has absorbed enough blood, she is provided for two to three days. “As soon as she bites, she injects proteins from her saliva to prevent the blood from clotting,” says Knols. “This allows her to suck out the blood. The more often you are bitten, the more antibodies are built up and the less trouble you experience from the mosquito bite.”
Bing Thio, dermatologist at Erasmus MC, specializes in itching. “A mosquito bite itches from the inflammatory response to the bite.” The dermatologist explains that this itching is caused by a combination of proteins in the mosquito’s saliva and your immune system that recognizes the attacking mosquito as a danger, with the result that a red itchy bump appears on the skin.
“When you scratch this, you get even more itching. The so-called Piezo1 molecule in the skin is responsible for this, which sends the signals to the brain and therefore you eventually feel more itching.”
Mosquitoes are attracted to body odors
Some people are extra sensitive to mosquito bites, such as adults who had eczema, hay fever or asthma as a child. “These people have genes that make the skin and mucous membranes overreact to a mosquito bite,” explains Thio.
“So they get bigger bumps and have much more itching. It often helps to cool down and then apply hormone ointment directly to the mosquito bite. This contains corticosteroids, which inhibit inflammation and help against itching.” The ointment is available on request from your general practitioner or dermatologist.
Every person has his own odor profile, the ratio of the substances determines the degree of attractiveness and repulsion for the mosquito and how often you are bitten.
Who is most often bitten is, among other things, genetically determined. “Mosquitoes are attracted to body odors,” Knols explains. “These odors are released through the skin, such as sweat from the pores. This sweat is then broken down by bacteria into short fatty acids and lactic acid. Carbon dioxide from exhaled breath also attracts mosquitoes.”
“Every person has their own odor profile, the ratio of the substances determines the degree of attractiveness and repulsion for the mosquito and how often you are bitten. So it is possible that your partner is bitten more often than you, even if you are lying down. next to each other.”
Products with lemon are ‘harmful and dangerous’
Eating garlic can have a repulsive effect, according to Knols, but that does not apply to mosquitoes. Also, according to him, everything with lemon is ‘junk’. Think of candles, wristbands and stickers with citronella. “It’s harmful and dangerous too,” says the mosquito expert.
“The problem is that people take these kinds of products into the tropics and use them, instead of, for example, malaria pills. This increases the risk of a potentially fatal disease.”
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