How Long Do Mosquito Bites Last?

  • Written By Dan Edwards on May 17, 2018
    Last Updated: December 30, 2020

If you’ve recently been ravaged by mosquitoes, you might find yourself wondering exactly how long the mosquito bites are going to last.

In this article, I’m going to take a look at the ins and outs of mosquito bites. Let’s go over what they look like, how long you’ll have them for, and how to get rid of the bites faster.

What Do Mosquito Bites Look Like?

Most people don’t initially feel mosquitoes biting. If you do feel something, it will be more of a stinging sensation, not anything particularly painful.

In fact, mosquitoes don’t actually bite. They use a long tube called a proboscis to pierce through the skin and suck blood. So, calling it a mosquito bite is actually incorrect. We could say “mosquito suck”, but that sounds a little odd.

Mosquito bites look like small circular bumps. They are typically white or reddish in color. Often, you can see a small hole in or near the center, this is where the mosquito penetrated the skin.

mosquito closeup bites

Mosquito bites can look similar to the bites from other creatures, such as spider bites, among others.

Why Mosquito Bites Itch

Soon after the bite, we will get an intense urge to scratch. Some people will feel it more than others, and the itching can last a while. This sensation is usually blamed on the mosquito, but that is not entirely correct.

When the mosquito bites, it will initially inject saliva into the blood. The saliva contains proteins and an anticoagulant which work to keep the blood from clotting. These properties are foreign to our body.

Similar to an allergic reaction, the immune system will release histamine to fight off the foreign invader. The histamine provides the affected area with white blood cells, which are needed to heal wounds. When the histamine reaches the area, we will begin to feel the itching sensation. So it is actually our body which is to blame for the discomfort.

The bite might grow a bit in size, and even harden, but this is normal. The urge to scratch may start to become unbearable. But before you attack the bite with your fingernails, try and stop yourself, because you will do more harm than good.

mosquito bites on leg

Giving in to the itch will only make it worse. Once you start scratching, it can be hard to stop. You may end up with broken skin or sores that could lead to an infected mosquito bite.

Finding multiple bites in the same area is not uncommon. The mosquito might try out a few spots before finding the perfect place to feed. 

People who are hyper-allergic may notice red bumps all over their body. This can look like a rash. 

How Long Do Mosquito Bites Usually Last?

Depending on the severity of the reaction to the bite, the bump could fade within days, or even hours. People with a severe allergy towards mosquitoes can experience itching and stinging for over a week after the bite. A rash can also appear around the area.

Treating the bite as soon as possible helps to reduce the time it takes to disappear. Exposure to sunlight can make the itching worse. For that reason, try to protect the bite from the sun if you want it to disappear quickly.

Did you know that the first time a mosquito bites you, you generally won’t feel anything? Maybe this is why babies don’t seem as bothered as older children or adults. As we know from earlier in the article, it is the histamine released by the body that causes the discomfort. But in order for the body to protect itself, it has to know what to do.

mosquito bites on childs legs

And just like the way vaccines work by injecting small amounts of a virus to help the body build a defense, the same thing happens with mosquito bites. Over time, the immune system figures out what those specific foreign properties need, which is histamine. Unfortunately, that means more itching and scratching for us.

Some people can actually become immune to the mosquito’s saliva, meaning they won’t be feeling any itching or discomfort. Others may have a completely opposite reaction. Rarely, there are people who develop an allergy towards mosquitoes over time.

Can Mosquito Bites Scar?

Mosquito bites can leave scars. Of course, it’s not your typical scarring, but some severe bites can leave the victim with permanent spots.

These can be seen as dark spots as the skin has healed. It usually occurs after particularly nasty bites, or if the person has scratched way too hard and broken the skin repeatedly. Scars can mostly be avoided by not scratching the bite.

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

The dark spots which can be left by mosquito bites are typically referred to as a kind of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation occurs when there is an increase in the production of melanin during the healing process. It can also happen due to the iron pigments that are left after red blood cells die.

Any changes to your skin because of mosquito bites and hyperpigmentation vary in shape and color. These small spots may be a red-brown to a darker brown in color. The location and shape depend on the injury or, in this case, infection.

Mosquito bites on ankle

Hyperpigmentation can occur due to a variety of other reasons. Acne, stretch marks, and burns are a few examples of things that cause this condition.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation usually fades on its own, but it can take months, if not years. Consult your dermatologist for advice on treatments if you’re worried. Some cases of hyperpigmentation only need creams to fade the scar, while others may require surgery.

There are a few ways you can help the dark spots fade a little faster. Applying sunscreen before going out is important, to make sure the color won’t worsen. Aloe vera and cocoa butter are popular home treatments for skin conditions. Of course, the chances of needing surgery for hyperpigmentation as a result of mosquito bites are rather slim.

To avoid scarring, the best thing you can do is treat the mosquito bite when it occurs. And restrain yourself from scratching.

How to Get Rid of Mosquito Bites Faster

Once you are bitten by a mosquito, you know you’re in for a long, itchy night. But is there a way to beat back the itch faster?

The good news is that, yes, there are ways to eliminate mosquito bites faster. Here are my top recommendations:

Don’t Scratch

I know I’ve said this a few times already but I must stress the importance of not scratching. When the bite happens, wash the area with cool water and soap instead.

Also, the quicker you catch the culprit, the better. If the mosquito feeds on you for longer, the bite will be more significant.

Apply Something Cold

Icea bag of frozen peas, or a cold compress: any of these will relieve the symptoms. The icy-cold temperature helps the blood vessels to contract after being dilated, bringing instant mosquito bite relief.

Take an Antihistamine

If you’re able to, taking an antihistamine tablet can help to lessen the effect of mosquito bites. However, this treatment should be saved for times when you really have been ravaged by these flying pests. Not if you just have one bite.

Remember that antihistamine is a drug, so you shouldn’t take it unless you’ve been given the go ahead by your doctor or nurse.

Try a Home Remedy

There are many great home remedies for getting rid of mosquito bites.

Aloe vera gel works great at reducing the itching and it helps to calm the skin, meaning it heals faster.

Applying a little fresh honey can also make the bite disappear faster, because honey is a natural antibiotic.

Prevention Is the Best Treatment

At the end of the day, the best way of getting rid of mosquito bites is by avoiding them in the first place.

Wearing protective clothing when going out in mosquito territory is a must. Long sleeves, long pants, and boots are the best at warding off pests.

Using mosquito repellents is also an excellent way to avoid any bites, not only from mosquitoes but also from ticks and other pests.

Final Thoughts

Mosquito bites may be annoying and itchy, but the good news is that for most of us they don’t last more than a day or so.

If you’re one of the unlucky people who have a stronger reaction to bites, consider investing in a decent repellent. Or even make your own.

To reduce the time a mosquito bite will last, avoid making the itch worse – and to lessen the risk of potential scarring—remember to stop scratching your bite.