Fight the bite

Fight the bite

Thursday, June 17, 2021


Who wants to scratch for days when you can prevent the itch in mere minutes? And what is it about bug spray that keeps the mosquitoes off? How can such a tiny nuisance cause so many diseases? It’s worth your time to fight the bite. View the list below for helpful tips.

There are 200 types of mosquitoes that live in the continental United States; of these 200, about 12 types spread germs that can make people sick. Because you can’t tell which mosquito could be spreading germs when it bites, it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites.  

To protect yourself against diseases spread by mosquitoes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend using an EPA-registered insect repellent. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Mosquitos can’t smell you if you use one of the following repellents: 

  • DEET 

  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US) 

  • IR3535 

  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) 

  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD) 

  • 2-undecanone 

Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. 


If you happen to get a mosquito bite, don’t scratch, the bites can become infected. There are optional ways to relieve the itch.  

  • Wash the area with soap and water. 

  • Apply an ice pack for 10 minutes to reduce swelling and itching. Reapply ice pack as needed. 

  • Apply a mixture of baking soda and water, which can help reduce the itch response. 

  • Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with just enough water to create a paste: 1. Apply the paste to the mosquito bite. 2. Wait 10 minutes. 3. Wash off the paste. 

  • Use an over-the counter anti-itch or antihistamine cream to help relieve the itch. Follow the product label directions. 


How can one small insect that weighs 2.5 milligrams carry disease? When a mosquito bites you, it pierces the skin using a special mouthpart (proboscis) to suck up blood. Female mosquitoes bite people and animals to get a blood meal. Male mosquitoes do not bite people and animals. 

As the mosquito is feeding, it injects saliva into your skin. Your body reacts to the saliva resulting in a bump and itching. 


Mosquitoes spread germs through bites. A mosquito gets infected with a virus or parasite when it bites a person or animal that is infected. The infected mosquito can spread germs to other people or animals through bites. Mosquitoes spread viruses like West Nile, Zika, chikungunya, dengue and parasites like malaria that can make you sick. Not everyone infected with a mosquito-borne germ gets sick.  


It’s worth your time to wear bug repellant and/or long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Then go enjoy the great outdoors.  


Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.