Relaxing outside on a summer evening — what could be nicer? Then, someone gets a mosquito bite, and the onslaught begins. As the mosquitoes feast on their chosen targets, others escape unscathed — but why? Medical News Today looks at what attracts mosquitoes, why they target certain people, and how to try and stop them from biting if you are one of the unlucky ones.
Why do some people always seem to fall victim to mosquito bites? Image credit: LWA/Getty Images.
There are more than 3,500 typesTrusted Source of mosquitoes, only some of which bite people. And it is only female mosquitoes that bite — they need blood as a source of protein for their eggs. To get it, they pierce the skin of their chosen host using their needle-like proboscis — resulting in a bite that may itch, swell, and even cause serious disease. In many countries, a mosquito bite is more than just an annoyance. From the malaria parasite transmitted by the Anopheles species to the viruses that cause yellow fever and dengue, mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of many of our greatest killers. Even if you live somewhere where a bite carries no risk of disease, the high-pitched whine of a mosquito is an unwelcome noise.
The itching and swelling from a bite can last for several days. Scratching the itch may lead to infection and, for a very few people, an allergic reaction that could result in anaphylactic shock.
How often have you come home from an evening barbecue or camping trip covered in mosquito bites to find that others on the same outing have not been bitten at all? What is it that makes mosquitoes feast on some people while, apparently, ignoring others? Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, professor of public health at New Mexico State University, told Medical News Today that: “The reasons for mosquitoes being attracted to humans have been discussed in a few studies. These studies have discussed body odor, body color, skin temperature and texture, microbes living on the skin, pregnancy status, carbon dioxide exhaled by humans, alcohol, and diet type. Overall, the studies suggest that pregnant women, people with high body temperature and sweat, diverse skin microbe presence, and those with darker skin could be more susceptible.”