For most people, a mosquito bite is a minor inconvenience.
They're the kind of thing that bothers you for a few days, but doesn't make much of a difference after that.
But a small group of people suffer harsh reactions to these bites that can leave them in agony for days.
Because we all take these bug bites for granted, it can be difficult for patients to realize their bites are truly severe.
But if you swell and scar after being bitten by a mosquito, you might have Skeeter Syndrome.
Why do mosquito bites make me break out?
While mosquito bites leave small, annoying marks on everyone, certain patients really suffer from them.
Most mosquito bites look like raised pink circles less than a half-inch across, and they disappear in just a few days.
But for patients with Skeeter Syndrome, the bite marks turn red and grow much larger. They can sometimes even boil and scar.
The difference is that these patients are more sensitive to the bug bites - essentially, they're allergic to mosquito bites.
The proteins in mosquito saliva that cause small breakouts for most people trigger intense reactions for these patients.
And other symptoms - like swelling, nausea, and fever - can also strike Skeeter Syndrome patients.
Basically, it should be clear to you by now if you have Skeeter Syndrome or not.
"If someone comes in and their entire arm is swollen and red from a mosquito bite, it can be pretty obvious," said allergist Dr. Purvi Parikh.
Is Skeeter Syndrome dangerous?
Most patients with Skeeter Syndrome aren't at risk of suffering a life-threatening reaction.
Unlike allergies to bee or wasp stings, mosquito allergies are generally mild.
But in some cases, the symptoms can be quite painful.
Patients have had their eyes swell shut, had difficulty breathing, experienced painful skin blisters, or even felt very nauseous.
Larger, nastier mosquito bites are also prone to getting infected, which can be dangerous.
If you have Skeeter Syndrome, it's important to take precautions by carrying bug spray with you and wearing long clothes during mosquito season.
Most reactions can be treated easily with over-the-counter allergy medicines like Benadryl. Rubbing in a hydrocortisone cream will also relieve your skin.
If nothing else is handy, a cool compress with an ice pack will help the swelling go down.
If you're tired of being eaten alive year after year, seeing an allergy specialist could help. Like with other types of allergies, special allergy shots can relieve your worst symptoms.
Are you a mosquito magnet?
Patients with Skeeter Syndrome are not all mosquito magnets, but some people definitely draw in these bugs.
Mosquitoes find their prey by following a trail of smells, carbon dioxide from our breath, and chemicals in our sweat.
They also have a number of preferences that make you a tastier target. Mosquitoes prefer:
- Men to women
- Pregnant women
- People who are overweight
- People with type O blood
- Anyone sweaty from recent exercise
- Patients who naturally produce more uric acid, lactic adcid, or ammonia
- People who recently drank beer
So put those drinks down and keep DEET handy to protect yourself from bugs!