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How to soothe itchy mosquito bites, why you shouldn't scratch

By Bianca Barr Tunno, AccuWeather staff writer

It’s inevitable – in the midst of summer, mosquito bites are part of outdoor fun. Experts say everyone will have to deal with those itchy welts at some point in time.

But if you scratch them for relief, you could cause more inflammation and infection, according to Dr. Ronald McRipley, an associate in emergency medicine at Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania.

“If it’s inflammatory, you will have more itching, but if it starts to get infected, it will become more painful and tender to touch,” McRipley said. “If you get to that point, you need to be seen by a healthcare provider to make sure you don’t have an infection that would require an antibiotic treatment.”

Mosquito sucking blood

(Photo/Noppharat05081977/Getty Images)

After receiving a mosquito bite, use a cold compress to dull the urge to itch. McRipley also suggested over-the-counter salves like calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream, which can be soothing to irritated skin. If you are having a stronger reaction, try an OTC oral antihistamine.

“Typically, with mosquito bites, they are going to be self-limited; they are going to get better on their own,” McRipley said.

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However, a small percentage of people will have significant reactions to mosquito bites, with fevers, headaches or signs of infection, McRipley told AccuWeather. Children and those who have weakened immune systems may see a large area of swelling and redness at the bite site.

It’s important to keep in mind that certain mosquitoes can transmit serious or potentially fatal diseases, such as the West Nile or Zika viruses, but according to McRipley, the great majority of mosquito bites in the United States are benign.

“The real prevention is to try not to get bitten by mosquitoes in the first place,” McRipley said.

Mosquito bite infogram

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