Can a Mosquito Bite Cause Hyperpigmentation?
When you have skin of color, the simplest skin trauma—including a bug bite—can lead to skin discoloration. If you’re a mosquito magnet, you are not only annoyed by several minutes of itching, your skin can end up riddled with equally annoying little dark spots.
Bite Me! What Happens When Mosquitoes Bite
When a mosquito bites you, it injects an anticoagulant into the skin to make the blood thinner and flow easier and longer to feast on enough of your blood. In reaction, the skin releases histamine, causing an inflammatory reaction. The skin gets red and forms a bump. If left alone, the swelling and redness often goes away quickly. If scratched or rubbed or if the individual has an allergic reaction, the little bump can swell considerably or even become infected.
The best solution is to discourage the mosquitoes from biting you by creating barriers or repelling them.
- Plant A Bug Proof Garden
If you’re avoiding your own backyard due to mosquitoes, Dr. Frank Lipman, an expert in the field of integrative medicine and founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, suggests planting a bug proof garden. Several plants have scents that keep bugs away like lemon basil, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, citronella grass, eucalyptus, pyrethrum and chamomile.
- Avoid Wearing Heavy Fragrance
Bugs are attracted to fragrance, so avoid wearing too much perfume or heavily scented product, including scented hair spray and lotions.
- Cover Up
When going out, especially in the evening, wear long sleeves and pants.
- Use Insect Repellant
Wearing clothing from head to toe is not always practical on hot, humid days (although covering up can also protect you from too much sun exposure), so you will probably need to use an insect repellant. If you want to stay clear of insect repellants with DEET and other potentially harmful chemicals, try a natural pre-blended repellant like Intelligent Nutrients Bug Repellent Perfume Serum.
- Use Natural Oils
You can also use your own blends of essential oils. Dr. Lipman recommends essential oils like citronella, lemon grass and peppermint oil diluted with a bit of jojoba oil.
Resist the Itch!
Don’t scratch the mosquito bite! Scratching the itch of the bug bite might provide temporary relief but it also causes more skin trauma and this can lead to hyperpigmentation. Scratching can also allow bacteria from your fingertips and under the fingernails to get into the small break in the skin caused by the bite and cause an infection.
- Gently Cleanse The Infected Area
When you get a mosquito bite, cleanse the area with a gentle soap or cleanser. Acu-Life Poison Ivy Soap, while for the relief of poison ivy, oak and sumac, actually relieves the itch from mosquito bites.
- Use An Anti-Itch Cream
If the mosquito bite itching persists:
*try an anti-itch cream with hydrocortisone like Cortizone 10 Hydrocortisone Anti Itch cream
*try an antihistamine like Benadryl Itching Stopping Gel
*there are other anti-itch creams and gels like After Bite (which contains ammonium) and After Bite Outdoors (ammonium and baking soda and tea tree oil) that some sufferers have found provide relief
*calamine lotion has also been suggested for insect bites, but it’s debatable whether it really stops itching. Calamine lotion seems to help more with a rash or irritation caused by the mosquito bite. Women who are pregnant or nursing shouldn’t use calamine lotion. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor if calamine will interact with any medicines you’re taking.
- Apply ice to reduce swelling.
- Aloe vera is an anti-inflammatory that can be used to soothe a bite and lessen the itching, as well as help heal the skin. You can dab the gel or juice on the bite.
- Mix baking soda and water until you make a paste and apply to bites. (You can also use baking soda toothpaste.)
- Make a paste of aspirin and water and apply to bites.
- Rub the affected area with an onion slice immediately after the bite to stop the itching. Onion is an anti-inflammatory. (If you rub it on after scratching the area, it will sting.)
- Take a colloidal oatmeal bath to sooth itching.
- Rub tea tree oil on the bite. Tea tree is an antiseptic and can kill bacteria and reduce allergic skin reactions.
When Dark Spots Appear
If you couldn’t resist the urge to scratch or had an inflammatory reaction that caused hyperpigmentation spots you can try using lightening ingredients. Some recommend using hydroquinone for fading dark marks, but it can be problematic for skin of color. You can also use treatments specifically created to heal scars like Bio Oil, Mederma, and Scar Zone.
When using fade creams or ingredients to fade marks, only apply the lightening agents to the dark spots. Don’t apply to the unaffected skin.
Natural ingredients for Fading Dark Marks
- Vitamin E applied to bite marks helps reduce redness and helps the skin heal.
- Rosehip seed oil helps reduce the discoloration and even out skin tone.
- Licorice is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that also has skin lightening properties.
- Coconut oil can lighten dark marks.
- Tomato exfoliates and lightens the skin.
- Lemons and limes are natural skin lighteners.
- Papaya helps fade dark spots and even out skin tone. Green papaya can be mixed with lemon or lime juice to help lighten spots.
- When applying a substance for lightening spots, leave on for about 10 minutes and then rinse. It could take two to three months for spots to fade.
- Make sure that the topical ointment used is hypoallergenic and won’t cause an allergic reaction and cause further inflammation.
- When using any ingredient, be sure to do a patch test in a small area like the inner elbow to make sure you will not have an allergic reaction, which will only exacerbate the problem.
- Whatever treatment you decide to use, always protect the treated area with sunscreen. Apply sunscreen whenever the area will be exposed to the sun. Sun exposure can make the dark marks worse. In addition some people find that sun exposure also causes a bite to itch again.