Mosquito bites are usually mild and heal in a few hours or days, but they can be painful and itchy. Mosquito bites in babies are common, and they are commonly mistaken for a rash. The insect can be a carrier or vector of several pathogens, leading to illnesses and inducing allergic reactions (1) (2).
To avoid this, you must know how to recognize the signs of a mosquito bite on a baby and keep the baby from getting bitten. This post covers all you need to know about mosquito bites, including recognizing them in babies and steps to protect them.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Mosquito Bite In Babies?
A baby bitten by a mosquito usually present the following signs (3):
- Red, swollen bumps, often appearing in clusters.
- The baby scratches the bumps a lot. The infant may also appear to be in discomfort while itching.
- The baby cries while rubbing a swollen, itchy bump.
- A large red patch with a raised bump at its center.
- A red bump on the skin, with its surrounding area swollen and reddened.
- Swelling on the face, with the skin reddened, when the mosquito bites on the face.
- A large lesion on the skin, which stays for several days. It mostly happens when the baby’s body displays an allergic reaction to the mosquito bite.
Symptoms are also most likely to emerge in peak mosquito breeding seasons, such as monsoons or immediately after it. If a mosquito bites your baby, the first thing to do is reduce the irritation.
What Are The Home Remedies For Mosquito Bites In Babies?
You can observe the following measures to relieve pain and itchiness caused by a mosquito bite on a baby:
- Apply an ice pack on the affected part. A mosquito bite makes the skin tender and can cause the area to feel warm. An ice pack can help provide relief. Use no more than one ice cube and give breaks while the application prevents the baby from getting chilly.
- Keep the affected area ventilated. Heat and congestion can further irritate the mosquito bite and cause more itchiness.
- Use calamine lotion, which is safe for first-aid in case of mosquito bites (7). The cooling effect of the lotion soothes irritated skin and makes the baby less prone to itching. Before applying, wash the skin with baby-safe antibacterial soap. Pat dry skin and then apply the lotion. Only use pure calamine lotion with no additives or get a calamine lotion, especially made for babies.
- Baby lotion. Although they are not made to treat mosquito bites, the compounds in them help soothe skin irritation and minimize the itching. Baby lotions are a safe remedy when dealing with mosquito bites on the baby’s face, where the skin is the most delicate.
- Put on the mittens. Mittens are baby gloves that keep the hands warm. Putting them on will prevent the baby from scratching the bite area. Avoid using mittens when there are mosquito bites on the hands or palms.
Application of honey, garlic paste, or vanilla essence on the mosquito bite may also soothe the bite area. However, there is no scientific evidence backing these natural remedies or how they affect the baby’s skin.
Mosquito bites can also cause problems other than bumps or redness on the skin. So, the first step towards your baby’s safety is to try and prevent mosquito bites in babies.
How To Prevent Mosquito Bites In Babies?
Protecting your baby from mosquitoes is quite easy. Here are some ways to prevent mosquito bites in babies:
- Creating a physical barrier against mosquitoes is the first option to prevent mosquito bites. Experts recommend sleeping under a mosquito net if you live in a mosquito-infested area (5). You can get a mosquito net for your baby crib as well.
Use the net during the baby’s naps and nighttime sleep. Mosquito netting is an effective and safer option for delicate newborns.
- Install window screens with mosquito nets in the baby’s room. Window screens with mesh can be an excellent choice in warmer areas, where there is a need to keep the windows open.
- Prevent stagnation of water around the home, as mosquitoes breed in it, especially during the rainy season. Drain away water accumulated in stored items. Keep water tanks tightly shut to prevent the entry of mosquitoes.
- Use baby-safe mosquito repellent lotions with active ingredient DEET, which is safe for babies over two months old (6). Use a lotion with a maximum DEET concentration of 50%. Avoid using vaporizer-based mosquito repellents since they may affect the baby’s breathing.
- Never use mosquito coils and repellent aerosol sprays since they contain chemicals that are harmful to an infant’s lungs. Natural mosquito repellents, such as lemon eucalyptus oil, may not be safe for infants and should not be used by children below three years of age (7).
- Dress your baby in protective clothing when visiting an area with mosquitoes. Some research suggests that most mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors such as black, red, and blue (8). Light shades of green and yellow are less attractive, with white being the least attractive.
Dress them in full sleeves and trousers. Cover the baby’s hands with mittens or gloves to prevent mosquito bites on hands. But sometimes, even preventive clothing may not be able to provide adequate protection against mosquito bites. Therefore, it is good to apply mosquito repellent on exposed skin before stepping out of the house.
Prevention is always better than cure. So, it is good to prevent mosquito bites as they might lead to some health complications if not acted upon promptly.
What Are The Complications Of Mosquito Bites In Babies?
The following problems arise as a direct result of a mosquito bite:
- Mosquito-borne illness from the pathogens, such as Zika virus or West Nile virus, spread by a mosquito. A 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report reveals that, among 1,450 babies, around one in seven infants below one experienced health issues perhaps caused by the Zika virus. In addition, a mosquito can transmit several diseases, such as malaria, dengue, and yellow fever, among others. Most of these diseases are difficult to treat and may have serious consequences (9).
- Allergic reaction to the saliva of the mosquito, which is injected into the body during a bite. A bump due to a mosquito bite is a mild reaction. However, some babies may display severe immunogenic responses such as Skeeter Skeetersyndrome, a rare allergic reaction to a mosquito bite (10). In this case, the affected part could become swollen and stays in such a state for several days.
- Opportunistic infections: Excessive scratching of the mosquito bite can rupture the bump, enabling bacteria or other pathogens to enter the wound. Although less common, opportunistic infections due to mosquito bites such as impetigo (local bacterial skin infection), cellulitis (bacterial infection of the deeper layers of skin), and lymphangitis (bacteria enters the lymph node) can occur too (3).
Spotting complications of a mosquito bite well in time can help you get prompt medical attention and improve disease prevention.
When To Visit A Doctor For A Baby’s Mosquito Bite?
If you notice the following symptoms after a mosquito bite, then take the baby to the doctor (11):
- Severe swelling for more than a day at the part of the body affected with a mosquito bite.
- Severe reddening of a large section of skin surrounding the mosquito bite.
- Blistering – formation of liquid-filled bumps.
- Bleeding and draining of liquid from the bump.
- Development of pus – yellowish liquid oozes from the mosquito bite bump.
- Swelling around the eye or eyelids in case the bite was skin around the eye.
- The baby displays swelling in the neck muscles.
- Trouble feeding, lethargy, and fever.
Is There A Treatment For Mosquito Bite?
Yes, and it varies. Here are the various treatment options:
- Disease medication: Specific medicines are used to treat mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria, dengue, etc. These are prescription medicines, and only a doctor can tell you about the dosage, depending on the illness.
- Antihistamine and allergy regulators: If your baby displays severe mosquito bite allergy, then the doctor may prescribe an oral antihistamine (4). Other medicines to tackle allergies include topical steroid ointments that relieve itching.
Mosquito bites seldom require extensive medical attention unless they lead to severe problems. Preventing a mosquito bite can be a better way to keep your baby safe.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do all mosquitoes bite?
No. Only the female mosquitoes bite as they need the nutrients from human or animal blood to form eggs within the body. Body odor and heat attract female mosquitoes. The female mosquito may bite about 20 times before finding a small blood vessel from which it feeds on the blood (10). That probably explains why even a single mosquito can cause multiple bite marks.
2. How long does the mosquito bite last?
Most mosquito bites might itch for approximately three to four days. After a bite, pinkness or redness lasts for a maximum of three to four days in general. However, the swelling could last for seven days (10).
3. How to reduce swelling from a mosquito bite?
If the reaction after a mosquito bite is localized, elevate the affected area and apply ice to reduce swelling (11). If the swelling does not subside in a few hours or a day, it would be wise to consult a doctor.
4. What scents do mosquitoes not like?
Apart from DEET and eucalyptus oils, citronella, lemon, and picaridin are a few scents used to repel mosquitoes. However, owing to their possible side effects and toxicity, they may not be advisable for babies (14).
5. Does breast milk help treat mosquito bites in babies?
Dr. Christina Johns, pediatric emergency physician from Annapolis, Maryland, says, “Breast milk can help soothe mosquito bites and assist in faster healing in some babies. It also has some antibacterial and antiviral components that can help protect against infection.”
Mosquito bites in babies can cause clusters of red swollen bumps on the face and other exposed body areas. This is more common in monsoon or when mosquitoes breed. Applying ice, calamine lotion, anti-itch cream, or body lotion may help reduce skin irritation and itching. This may also help avoid skin injuries due to scratching and secondary skin infections. You may use window and door mosquito screens and nets to protect your babies from mosquitoes. Avoid stagnant water around the home, and use baby-friendly repellents to stay away from mosquitoes.
Infographic: When To Visit A Doctor For A Baby’s Mosquito Bite?
Although mosquito bites are not that much of a concern and do not lead to complications, you should look for certain signs and symptoms. If you notice unusual signs in your baby, take them to the doctor. In the following infographic, you will find the list of cautionary signs. Give it a read and share it with others too.
- Mosquito bites develop as a red, itchy, and swollen bump, or allergic reaction.
- Using baby lotion, an ice pack, or baby lotion helps soothe the baby’s rashes and irritation.
- Mosquito bites in babies may sometimes cause severe skin rashes and diseases such as dengue and malaria.
- Measures such as using mosquito nets, protective clothing, baby-safe mosquito repellent lotions, and maintaining clean surroundings help protect babies against mosquito bites.
- Insect bites and stings; National Health Service UK
- Protect Your Infant From Dengue; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Mosquito Bite; Symptom viewer; Healthy Children; American Academy of Pediatrics
- When mosquitoes bite take antihistamines for relief; University of Washington
- Use Bed Nets While Sleeping; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Guidelines for DEET Insect Repellent Use; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Home Remedies For Mosquito Bites; University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Vector-borne diseases; WHO
- Mosquito-Borne Diseases
- Mosquito Bite; Seattle Children’s Hospital (2019)
- Take a Bite Out of Mosquito Stings; American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology
- Mosquito Bite Symptoms and Treatment
- Mosquito Bites
- Mi Young Lee; (2018); Essential Oils as Repellents against Arthropods.