Boddities | Episode 11 | Why do bug bites cause bumps on the skin?


I recently visited nature and to my surprise there were mosquitos everywhere. Which made me wonder, what’s happening in our bodies when mosquitos make a pit stop on our skin for dinner? Their main goal is to try to suck your blood, essentially, and they deposit antigens that are specific to trying to keep those veins open so that they can eat. When a mosquito bites you and deposits these antigens your body’s immune system kicks into action. Different bugs deposit different antigens which is why a bee sting feels differently than a mosquito bite. Bee stings release more pain producing antigens, while certain spider bites actually release antigens that can cause the skin to die. Whatever the bug, your body recognizes the antigens as something that shouldn’t be there, and prepares an attack. The cells that are in the skin release histamine and other chemicals and that causes blood vessels to dialate, it causes fluid to accumulate, and it causes an itch response, and so that’s why you get that red itchy bump, or a wheel, when you get bit by a mosquito. Some people get bigger bumps when they get bit by a mosquito than others. That’s just because no one immune system is exactly the same. But by and large, kids tend to have much worse reactions to bug bites than adults do. As a kid, you’re sort of new to everything and you get a bug bite and you might have a huge response but as you get older it will get less. Are mosquitos attracted more to some people than to other people? Definitely. Some people smell better, they’re wearing perfumes, or there is something about their chemistry that mosquitos and insects like and they go after them. There is some thought that the amount of CO2 that you’re producing might attract them, but there’s definitely an individual aspect to which person the mosquitos will go to. For the record I do not smell bad but I also do not get bit by mosquitos. If you’re looking to avoid bug bites without having to scare people off with your smell, you can avoid wearing perfume, cover up while you’re outside, and spritz on a little bug spray. And if you do get a bug bite try to resist the temptation to scratch it.

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