We have all experienced the agony of mosquito bites. Sometimes they hurt so bad that I find myself counting down the minutes until the bites finally go away. But how long does it take exactly for mosquito bite pain to subside? Is there a rule of thumb for how long it takes the body to eliminate them?
Not all mosquito bites are the same. You have probably noticed that your body can react quite differently to various mosquito bites. Some bites are relatively innocuous– the pain is barely noticeable and they disappear quickly. Most commonly, mosquito bites last for about 20 to 60 minutes until the itching and pain begins to fade away. On the other hand, some mosquito bites can last for hours or even days with associated pain and itching that is almost unbearable.
Why is this? Why is there so much variation with how long it takes different mosquito bites to go away? Let’s take a look at a number of different variables at play.
Which mosquito species bit you?
First, it depends on what kind of mosquito bit you. There are many different species of mosquito around the world, and this plays a large role in how long it takes for their bite to go away. Some cause more painful bites that last longer than others.
This is because before it begins drawing blood, a mosquito injects saliva into the epidermis, or outer layer of your skin. Mosquito saliva contains a mild anesthetic so that you will not feel the bite while it is happening. This is very important for mosquito survival because otherwise you would swat and kill the mosquito while it’s doing its dirty work. Another component of mosquito saliva is an anticoagulant, which ensures that the blood will continue to flow until the mosquito is satiated.
Your body’s specific allergic reaction to that mosquito
So when a mosquito bites you, it is injecting all kinds of nasty stuff into your body. The classic symptoms of mosquito bites–pain, itching, and a raised red bump on the skin–are all caused by a natural allergic reaction by the body to these foreign substances injected into your skin by the mosquito.
A key thing to understand here is that everyone’s body is different. Not everyone is allergic to the same substances and at the same levels. It all depends on how your particular body chemistry reacts with the saliva of that specific mosquito species. So, for example, the same mosquito could bite two different people and cause two very different reactions. For one person, it might take hours of painful suffering for the mosquito bite to go away. And for another, he may barely feel the bite.
Where on your body is the mosquito bite?
Mosquito bites to the hands and feet will take longer to go away because there is less blood flow to the extremities. Bites closer to or on the body’s core will not last as long because the increased blood flow in those areas helps to clear the offending allergic substances from the body more quickly.
I, personally, only get mosquito bites on my feet. I rarely get bitten anywhere else on my body. I don’t know why this is, but it seems to be quite unusual. My mosquito bites take longer to go away, though, for this reason.
How to make mosquito bites go away quicker
There are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of time it takes mosquito bites to disappear. First, don’t scratch it. Scratching a mosquito bite with your fingernails may lead to broken skin and risks infection. Any scratches or cuts to your skin will cause even more itching and increased healing time.
It’s okay to lightly rub the mosquito bite with your fingers, though. Gently massaging mosquito bites will increase the blood circulation to the affected area and help the body to clear the allergic substances from the skin more quickly.
Additionally, there are a few topical creams that you can apply directly to the skin to decrease the healing time for mosquito bites. 1% hydro-cortisone cream is a steroid used to reduce inflammation and rashes. It works well on mosquito bites, too. Calamine lotion may also be applied directly to mosquito bites. Both hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion are available as over-the-counter medicines at your local drugstore.