What is Skeeter Syndrome?

Skeeter Syndrome is an allergy to mosquito saliva. It can present with extremeSkeeter Syndrome Mosquito Bite swelling, itching, blistering, infection, fever and in some cases anaphylactic shock, asthma and cellulitis. Most people will experience some level of allergic reaction, with itching and redness, individuals who suffer from skeeter syndrome experience a very extreme reaction.

The swelling that results from a mosquito bite  in  people who have a mosquito bite allergy is similar to a bee sting. In some cases the swelling is so extreme that the affected limb doubles in size, eyes swell shut, and the area feels hot and hard to the touch. Sometimes the bite will blister and ooze. The swelling can be painful, and can present with a low grade fever and general malaise.

In extreme cases a mosquito bite can  lead to anaphylactic shock, asthma and other life threatening complications.

Skeeter syndrome can affect people of all ages. The most commonly affected group seems to be young children, toddlers and seniors.

What causes Skeeter Syndrome?

The condition is a result of an allergy to the polypeptides in the mosquito’s saliva that it injects to thin the blood during its bite.

Because human blood is too thick for a mosquito to be able to siphon,  the mosquito first injects a thinning agent into the victim. The thinning agent, the mosquito’s saliva, is what causes the allergic reaction.

 The body reacts to the enzymes and results in the swelling, discomfort and blistering.

 The allergic reaction isn’t always instant, and can develop up to  48hrs after the original bite. 

Individuals who have no prior history of an adverse reaction to mosquito bites have been known to develop Skeeter syndrome symptoms suddenly. The reason for developing the allergy isn’t known, and although it has been linked to an autoimmune reaction to the enzymes. There is no known reason why someone might develop an allergy to mosquito bites suddenly, with no prior allergy history.

Because there are several species of mosquito whose saliva Mosquito Bite Diagramcontain slightly different enzymes it is possible to be allergic to a specific species of mosquito, or a few species, while having little to no reaction to others. This might explain why an individual who has had no history of mosquito allergies might experience an extreme reaction to mosquito bites when visiting another state or country.

Mosquito bite allergies are treated topically to help reduce swelling and relieve itching. Antihistamines can also be taken orally to provide longer relief from itching and have been know to help reduce swelling in the affected area.   There are also many natural home remedies and treatments that can help relieve the discomfort associated with skeeter syndrome.

37 thoughts on “What is Skeeter Syndrome?

  1. Stacy Conner

    I found this information very helpful my son was bit by Skeeter’s and he just had a few small places then last night omg I looked and he had some that where bigger then the size of baseballs and they look so bad I rushed him to the hospital the er Dr couldn’t tell me jack crap so I got on here doing my own research and found this and his spots look just like this…..

    Reply
    1. Tracie

      We have had the same issue many times, even to the point of a doctor accusing us of burning our child. We have (after hospitalizations, IV treatments, many rounds of prednisolone, etc) found a GP and a Specialist who take our daughter’s condition seriously. She has been taking adult daily antihistamines since she was 4 to help lessen the symptoms, but unfortunately that is no longer as affective as it once was.

      Her first bad reactions were large welts that blistered and bruised. Now a single bite will cause a limb to swell, her to become lethargic and nauseus. Every bite results in antibiotics, antihistamines and prednisolone :(

      Reply
      1. Paula

        My mosquito bites swell up quite large. I find that by taking an Epsom salt bath (with a Ton of Epsom salt), and the swelling will decrease within a day.

        Reply
      2. Rachel

        sorry to hear of this. Before I take my kids out I put Johnsons baby Creamy oil on them. Its in a green bottle. IT WORKS MIRACLES! for some reason it keeps the mosquitos away.

        Reply
    2. Jess Chambers

      This website was very helpful. When I was young I used to have bad reactions to mosquitoes which lead to a lot of scarring as well as several cases of impetigo, which is a staph infection which occurs when there has been some injury to the skin such as an accident or a bug bite however you can also catch it from a child with a severe cold. Fast forward a couple of years, the inflammation has started again and just like the website has stated glad I didn’t go to the doctor, this was way more helpful.

      Reply
  2. Hattie

    I kknow thbis sit offers quality based posts andd other material,
    is there any other web page whuch gibes these information iin quality?

    Reply
  3. Hannah

    I get mosquito bites like this every summer. They’ll swell, sometimes to the size of my hand, and feel like someone’s holding a lighter under them. Everyone I know just seems to think that I’m just a little sensitive, but it feels good to know that I’m making sense when I tell people that I’m allergic to mosquitos.

    Reply
  4. Marie

    My 8-year old son suffers from Skeeter syndrome. When he gets bitten by a mosquito, the sting site swells up , often to the size of his hand or more, the center will blister and ooze, and scars may develop, even though he does not scratch. He also gets a slight fever and feels tired and achy.

    Our pediatrician dismisses the condition as harmless, if bothersome, so I have come to resort to giving my son Benadryl for 1 or 2 days (the highest dose for his age and weight according to the label) and applying anti-itch gels and cremes with a local aneasthetic. Unfortunately, applying gels hurts him because they sting on the broken skin, and rubbing in the cremes hurts because just touching the swollen bites already hurts. But my son knows that this will help him eventually (he is old enough to understand, it was way more difficult when he was younger), so he tolerates it.

    My worry is that he might develop anaphylaxis one day, even though it seems that there is a chance that children can “outgrow” Skeeter syndrome.

    There are two more things that I want to mention:

    My son was stung by a yellow jacket when he was 6 weeks old, and by a hornet at the age of 15 months. I don’t know if this had anything to do with him developing Skeeter. He is not allergic to wasp or bee stings, though.

    He also seems to really attract mosquito bites. When he and his brother are outside, he may come home with 12 or 15 bites, while his brother will have only 1 or 2. And this despite the fact that he has been sprayed with Deet all over, and his brother has not. Very annoying and puzzling.
    I have tried changing his diet and avoid scented soaps, shampoo and laundry detergent, and using different types of repellents, but no improvements.

    So as of now, all we can do is keep Benadryl handy anytime, use it as soon as possible after the bite, and bring it with us on trips and visits.

    Reply
    1. debbie

      Believe it I have it and toothpaste works stops the itching immediately and works longer than anything else u smell like mint but he won’t itch no more let me know if it works for him

      Reply
    2. v

      Can I suggest a diet with garlic or watermelon? I used these whilst on holiday and both proved to work as I seem to attract mosquitoes and I also react quite badly suffering blistering weals.

      Reply
    3. Alex

      I’m sorry to hear about your son having this issue. It is similar to how I was when I was a child.

      As a child I have huge swellings that were half my limb. And occasionally they would be streaky on the edges. They would be extremely hot and hard and very very very painful to even the slightest touch. My skin would also be hyper sensitive and even clothing would be irritating to the area affected. Even if I did not scratch the areas they tended to leave white scars that faded over time. I would also be very lethargic.

      Now as an adult, I still have the swelling, though not nearly as bad. Now they get to be half an inch to an inch depending on location. Hands and feet tend to swell more though I don’t know why. They are still hot and hard and painful. I don’t get the lethargic feeling anymore though and the streaking as also only happened rarely on occasion. I also don’t notice much scarring.

      Benedryl has never helped me, nor has any cream. As for prevention, Deet also bothers my skin (I have very sensitive skin). I use a deet free bug spray now called Buggins Natural. You can usually find it at Walmart. It’s mainly for gnats and flies but I don’t get bitten by mosquitos nearly as badly as before. It also smells good as it has vanilla, mint, and rose in it. When I’m out of this spray I tie vanilla car fresheners to my belt. It looks ridiculous but it does help some.

      Good luck, I hope he finds some relief.

      Reply
  5. Thomas

    My son has same issue. Doctors can’t say it’s Mosquitos but only say It has to be spiders. Don’t believe that for a minute. Maybe first bite or even second. 4 times in a month it has to be Mosquitos . His eye swelled up shut this time. Been in ER for 2 days iv treatments and topical hydrocortisone is really what’s working best. Don’t know how long he’s going to have this problem but hopefully he grows out of it.

    Reply
  6. ann m

    A nasty thing…… eeek !!! Happend to me for the first time :0. Never had to worry so much about getting bit by a mosquito But now I do !!! Living in the south its extremely hard to avoid ….time to start carrying an epi-pen again…

    Reply
  7. Nina

    I have been suffering from the same severe allergic reaction to mosquitos my whole life. Nothing helps. Not repellant, rubbing alcohol, Raid spray, calidryl, nothing!

    Reply
  8. Dawn Morgan

    I live in NJ, and get mosquito bites every Summer. The bites itch, but NEVER swell. When we vacation in Upstate NY every August, the mosquito bites I get there always become warm to the touch and swell to the size golf balls!!! I read somewhere that the saliva proteins on mosquitos vary from state to state, so it seems I’m more allergic to NY mosquitos than NJ ones!!

    Reply
  9. Allie

    I lived in Erie, PA my whole life and then moved to Baltimore just a couple years ago. Mosquitos have always been especially attracted to me, when compared to other people. But never ever have I had an allergic reaction until I moved here and this summer has been rough. At the moment I have 3 bites on my 2nd toe alone just from walking to mailbox and back in flip-flops. My toe is throbbing, red, swollen, driving me nuts. Nothing has helped. They’ll b blisters by tomorrow, so that’ll even more irritating. Saw someone suggested toothpaste… Gonna give that a try tonight. Wish me luck!

    Reply
  10. Kathleen

    Last month, I developed Skeeter syndrome. I am allergic to bee stings. I had absolutely no idea what these giant (SIZE OF MY HAND) red areas were, but they always had bruises. My PCP gave me a 6-day course of prednisone (40 mg for three days, 20 mgs for three days), and prescribed hydrocortisone. That knocked it out in two days.
    Now I am down in Texas visiting friends and guess what? Texas-size reaction to mosquitos. Some are bigger than my whole hand, some the size of my palm, and some the diameter of a golf ball. All have bruising. My fingers swelled up so badly they looked like sausages.
    I tried an oatmeal colloidal bath (Aveeno), to no avail. I was also bitten on my face, most noticeably by the tear duct in my left eye. Yesterday when I woke up, my eye was crusted shut.
    Right now, I feel like I have the flu and am very fatigued. Can anyone relate?

    Reply
    1. Stacy Wells

      Kathleen, if you feel like you have flu symptoms you need to get to the dr ASAP. It could be something more serious like malaria.

      Reply
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    Reply
  12. amy

    i have skeeter syndrome, and it usually leaves me with huge bites that cause a lot of pain and itching. antihistamines help a little, insect bite cream does nothing really. just been and bought a cream with pramocaine and zinc oxide – instant relief, still no pain or itching after 2 hours. maybe it can help someone else too.

    Reply
  13. Kristi

    Mosquitos have always loved me! Living in CA I would get lots of bites during the summer but wouldn’t be anything too bad. Getting older they started to spread and swell a little. After moving to GA the bites have been swelling up like crazy! The last time I got bit 3 times on the back of my leg and each one was swollen and seemed to bruise. It was really hard to walk for a few days. Then I went to a trip to Mexico and one bug bite on my foot spread and my foot got really swollen which was new. I’m on antibiotics and prednisolone now- is this going to happen everytime I get bitten now?? Benadryl only seems to help me sleep at night despite the itch and anti-itch cream doesn’t help at all.

    Reply
  14. Nessa

    This are definately spider bite mosquito dont leave a bite hole like that 1st clue

    Reply
  15. Sue B.

    My son first experienced this while on vacation and we ended up in the ER, he got a shot of antibiotics, a script for prednisone and oral antibiotics plus benadryl and he was fine. We found Benadryl doesn’t help really, Zyrtec is what stops the reaction cold. We give him Zyrtec at the first sign of swelling and no need for all the extra stuff.

    His allergist says it’s not considered an allergic reaction even though his entire limb swells to 3x normal size. I would like to know why he reacts this way and not the rest of us, but we have a treatment that works and his allergist isn’t at all concerned it will get worse or become anaphalactic? Anyways for us Zyrtec is the way to go it’s all we really need if we get right on top of it!

    Reply
  16. Renatta

    I have suffered from this my entire life, so has my father. what I find most helpful is to take a shower right after mosquito exposure. I also highly recommend the benadryl itch stick. it’s a topical analgesic and antihistamin dabber, it works like a hot damn but you gotta use a lot of it. I carry a stick in my purse and my car during the summer months.

    Reply
  17. Lozw

    I live in the UK and each time I go abroad on holiday I have Skeeters Syndrome, last time in Mexico I felt generally unwell my legs, feet and ankles doubled in size and I had 5 hard oozing blisters on my legs.
    Both legs felt like dead weights to pull along, I tried all different repellant, deet, the Mexican repellant buzz off but still ended up in this state. Worst part is flying home and the blisters burst on the plane!!
    I’ve now been told to try wearing tights at night, not ideal in the heat but sti!! And to use citrus anti bac gel. I have some lemon and lime. I also took water tablets which reduced the swelling in my legs.
    I never know whether piercing the blisters to drain the fluid is the right going to do as they fill up again or to leave them

    Reply
  18. Vickie

    My grandson has this. He had a bite on his calf that was so swollen he couldn’t walk. One of my coworkers’s son had this same problem when he was little and she was told to use tea tree soap to bathe him. We have tried this and it does seem to have helped. It is the only soap he uses. Tea tree oil will also help when put directly on a bite.

    Reply
  19. Tasha Greenwood

    My son and youngest daughter have it. The 2-oldest dont. I carry an Epi-pen with me JIC.
    Also, for those who dont mind purple flowers and have the time; Catnip planted around the house helps keep them away (think Marigold does too). Look up plants/flowers that keep mosquitos away. Anything helps.
    And Lemon Eucalyptus is safe and works just as good (if not better) than DEET.

    Reply
  20. Ella

    Me too! I moved to New York from the UK three years ago and I swear there’s something in the NY mosquitoes that my body just can’t deal with. Pretty much every bite I get here turns into a red raw patch a few inches across, and then swells up like a golf ball. When I first arrived I’d take pictures as they freaked me out so much. They’d get so swollen and hard they’d literally change the shape of my limb for a few days. They were never infected, never blistered, and always go down on their own eventually but until that happens I really look like I’d been in a fight.

    I just came back from two weeks in East Africa…got a few bites on my ankle and they were completely normal. The one I had on my face on the plane going over took up half of my cheek and made my lymph nodes go crazy. Guess I should be slathering on the DEET at home too.

    Reply
  21. Ron Beougher

    My first reaction was in Viet Nam. It was not unusual to have a big puffy lip or have my eye swell shut. When I came home, I was totally surprised to have a bad reaction. Bites itched so bad that I took a cold shower. Then they swelled the size of duck eggs and sent me into shock. Later I had another hospitalization and so I take cover when I feel the adrenalin uptake. A couple of weeks ago I got three bites on my elbow and it swelled with a big sack of fluid. It has shrunk some and gotten harder, but is still bothersome and looks freakish.

    Reply
  22. EILEEN

    I’m originally from Chile. Though mosquitoes have always loved me, I never had such a serious reaction to their bites as I get here in the US. I live in Upstate NY and there are so many mosquitoes around here, that the only way to avoid them is staying indoors.

    Deep woods OFF helps me avoid bites, but they always find the smallest un-sprayed area and I can get 5 bites within one inch of skin.

    I get Skeeter syndrome with every bite, fortunately not anaphylactic, swelling, redness, pain, blisters, dizziness, etc. The effect of each mosquito bite can last for months, creams help relieve the area, but if I stop usying them, all the symptoms come back as if it was a fresh bite. The only thing that makes them heal permanently is bleeding (I know, it’s weird). I found out accidentally when I scratched a blister in my sleep one night. Now, whenever I see the allergic reaction, I break the area with a needle; and by next day the swelling is gone, leaving a bruise, which goes away in two days, leaving a “normal” scaring area.

    I tried toothpaste, as someone mentioned above. It does relieve the itching, but if the area is still swollen, it worsens the swelling and prevents healing. If I use it one the swelling is gone, on the bruised area, it helps a tone, no itching at all, THANK YOU!

    Good luck to everyone!

    Reply
  23. Lisa

    I’ve had this my whole life but didn’t realize it was an allergy until my late thirties. Once while travelling when I was twenty I was bitten all over my face. It was very swollen, with hard red welts. Just horrible.

    What I find helps me the most it orevention of the reaction. Mosquitoes love me, of course and all you need is one. I try to take an antihistamine every day to build up the drug in my body because once bitten, if I’m taking something like Reactine daily, the bites don’t bother me at all.

    However I stopped taking it ….and was bitten badly on my feet two nights ago. One foot has about ten bites, all swollen painful and itchy. I barely slept last night because of them. I find that taking antihistamine after being bitten doesn’t work as well. Though perhaps benedryl would but it does have the drowsy affect. Now I’m suffering and find only soaking my feet in cold water or with cold cloths help. Going to try toothpaste. I think some anti itch creams are baking soda based that’s probably why that works. But really when your skin feels like it’s going to burst, not much helps.

    The only thing that helps at this point is for the swelling to burst.

    So glad to know I’m not alone. This isn’t very well known but I’ve seen it on more than a few people so I think it’s just under diagnosed and not known by doctors.

    Reply
  24. sara hargreaves

    i live in the uk and 2 years ago when i went to Dominican i got bitten all over my legs . The majority blew up into huge blisters like ive never seen before and i went to hospital where they were drained. last year i went to mexico and took antihistamines before i went and while i was there, i also coated myself each night with the jungle spray. i hated doing this as it ruins your clothes and smells awful but didn’t have a choice. i still got a few bites that swelled up slightly and spread approx 2 inches but they didn’t blister which was a relief. What i want to know is can anyone suggest anything else i can use apart from the jungle formula as going mexico again this year. Also do the bands work ?
    thanks

    Reply
  25. samehere

    my son has this also, worst swelling comes from black fly bites, not as much from mosquitos. (in Finland).
    taking long shower after bites seem to help, also he is taking Aerius daily, seems to help on itching and swelling.
    Few times had his eyes swollen closed (when having bites in forehead), takes 3-6 days to go away. Also if get bites near ears, ears get swollen also (totally red and 2-3 times size), few times had to take antibiotics. Same for hands, sometimes get infection during swelling and need antibiotics..

    Would be interesting to know more about this, the cause, remedies for swelling etc. local doctors dont seem to know what it is, one private clinic doctor said he has never seen anything like this in his whole career.. (on the ear swollen case).

    Reply
    1. samehere

      one more note here, my son’s grandmother had allergy for bees so maybe it goes in the family?
      Anyone else knows if someone in their family has same?

      Reply
  26. Alison

    My mosquito bites swell up super large like everyone else here. And it seemed no matter what I put on the bites it would swell up to the size of a baseball. Last week I got a bite near my eye. I had the mental image of it swelling my eye shut. I didn’t want that to happen, I was desperate. What I did was take a straight razor and sanitized it with 90 percent rubbing alcohol and made a couple of slits (gentle) and soaked the blood with a cotton ball. Once it stopped bleeding, I dabbed rubbing alcohol and tea tree oil off and on for a couple of days. The key is to dry out the wound. For the first time ever, my mosquito bite did not swell up to the size of Texas and healed to the point which there was barely a scar.

    Reply

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