Mosquito Bites: What They Look Like, How to Treat

Asian woman scratching her arm skin, health care concept image of mosquito bite, allergic dermis inflammation, fungus infection, dermatology disease, malaria, dengue, tropical mosquito virus infection
© 9nong/

Written by Niccoy Walker

Published: May 24, 2023

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The dreaded mosquito is one of the worst parts of the summertime. You have an amazing day lounging by the pool and grilling outside with family, just to come home and realize you were eaten alive by mosquitoes. Unfortunately, these pests are familiar foes during warmer weather. And they don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Learn all there is to know about mosquito bites, including what they look like, what they feel like, and how to treat them.

mosquitoes: An Overview

Macro shot of Northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens) sitting on human skin

There are over 3,500

mosquito species across the world


These flying insects inhabit most regions of the world, featuring over 3,500 species. But thankfully, not all species bites humans. And out of the ones that do, only some are vectors for disease. They are resilient creatures with short lifespans. While they can live in areas inside or outside and bite people day or night, they only live for about two to four weeks. 

mosquitoes feature three main body segments: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen. They also have one pair of wings, three pairs of legs, and an elongated mouth. And they can vary in colors and patterns depending on the species.

There are over 200 species in the United States. And out of those 200, only 12 can spread germs. The common types of mosquitoes in the US are the Culex, Anopheles, and Aedes genera.

Where Can You Find Mosquitoes?

mosquitoes live throughout most of the world, except for the polar regions. And while different species prefer different habitats, they all have one thing in common: water. Whether a mosquito likes to fly around your suburban neighborhood or remain in marshes or forests, it will always be close to a water source. 

mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs. Some prefer permanent bodies of water, like lakes and ponds. While others take advantage of floodwaters and other temporary water sources. You may notice that mosquitoes around your property flock to pools, ponds, and even containers that filled during the last rainstorm.  

Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Humans?

Technically, only female mosquitoes bite humans. To successfully lay their eggs, females consume blood meals for protein, whether from humans or animals. 

Several things make you an attractive option to feed on:

  • Increased carbon dioxide output and those with higher body mass indexes
  • Lactic acid, which we produce when we exercise
  • Skin bacteria
  • Sweat and sebum
  • Blood group O 

What Do Mosquito Bites Look Like? How Do They Feel?

Asian woman scratching her arm skin, health care concept image of mosquito bite, allergic dermis inflammation, fungus infection, dermatology disease, malaria, dengue, tropical mosquito virus infection

Mosquito bites are puffy white or red bumps that itch


When a female mosquito feeds on you, it uses its proboscis (mouth parts) to pierce your skin and suck up blood. As it feeds, some saliva gets into your skin and causes a mild reaction in the form of an itchy bump. 

Mosquito bites appear as raised and puffy round or oval bumps. They can either be white, red, or reddish-brown. Some people have harsher reactions to mosquito bites than others, such as swelling and redness around the bump and soreness. You may also notice a cluster of hard itchy bumps appearing after a day or two. Some people can also develop blisters and dark spots.

Learn more about mosquito bites by visiting the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How Long Do Mosquito Bites Last?

The itching, swelling, and redness from a mosquito bite typically lasts around three to seven days. However, depending on your tolerance and how much you scratch, some bites may take up to three weeks to completely heal.

When to Worry About a Mosquito Bite

Most mosquito bites are nothing to worry about and can easily be treated at home with an ice pack and anti-itch cream. But some people, such as children and people with immune disorders, can experience more severe symptoms, such as a low-grade fever, swollen lymph nodes, and hives. Bites can become infected if you scratch them and introduce bacteria. See a doctor if the area becomes red, warm to the touch, and a red streak appears on the skin.

Allergic reaction, itch, allergy, dermatiti concept. Close up of woman applying cream or ointment on swell skin after insect mosquito bites, isolated on grey studio background.

Mosquito bites can be treated with over-the-counter anti-itch cream


How Harmful are Mosquito Bites?

Mosquitos can also spread harmful viruses and diseases that can make you sick. Certain species can be a vector for West Nile, Dengue fever, and malaria. However, not everyone that gets infected with a germ will get sick. See a healthcare provider if you have a high fever, severe headaches, signs of an infection, and body aches.

How to Treat Mosquito Bites

Most mosquito bites can safely be treated at home with a few essential items.

  • Wash the bite with soap and water
  • Make a paste using baking soda and water and apply to the bite for ten minutes
  • Use an ice pack
  • Try an anti-itch cream
  • Don’t scratch!

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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