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Skeeter syndrome is a rare allergic reaction to a mosquito bite. It is more severe than the typical itchy bump that forms on the skin and can be life threatening.
For many people, getting a mosquito bite is a minor nuisance. It causes a small, itchy bump that goes away after a few days. However, for some people, a mosquito bite can cause severe allergic-like symptoms. This is known as skeeter syndrome, mosquito syndrome, or mosquito bite allergy.
Skeeter syndrome is rare. It can also cause serious symptoms, including, rarely, anaphylaxis. So, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and reduce the risk of mosquito bites.
In most people, a mosquito bite causes mild, localized symptoms. This means the irritation is limited to the site of the mosquito bite.
If you have skeeter syndrome, you’ll also develop a localized allergic reaction. However, the symptoms will cover a larger area, which can range from a few centimeters to more than 10 centimeters wide.
Depending on the severity of the reaction, the area around the mosquito bite might have the following symptoms:
Anaphylaxis is a potentially life threatening allergic reaction. Go to the nearest emergency room or call emergency services, like 911, if you experience:
A mosquito bites you to suck up blood. It does this by puncturing your skin with its proboscis, a needle-like mouthpart.
When this happens, the mosquito also injects saliva into your skin. The saliva contains proteins.
In most people, these proteins cause a minor immune response. But if you have skeeter syndrome, your immune system overreacts to the proteins, causing a more serious allergic-like reaction.
The exact cause of the reaction is unknown. However, the following people might have a higher risk of skeeter syndrome:
After a typical mosquito bite, irritation peaks after 20 minutes. The health effects usually disappear within a few days.
But in skeeter syndrome, the symptoms last significantly longer. Generally, the local reaction progresses over 8 to 12 hours or more. It can take several weeks for the symptoms to resolve.
Skeeter syndrome can pose the following complications:
The risk of anaphylaxis is especially concerning during pregnancy. That’s because the reaction can cause hypotension (low blood pressure) and hypoxemia (low blood oxygen).
Hypotension and hypoxemia are harmful to both the parent and fetus. It can also cause brain damage in a fetus.
Additional signs of anaphylaxis during pregnancy include:
Anaphylaxis can also cause premature labor.
The goal of treatment is to manage the skin-related symptoms. It also involves preventing the severity of the allergic reaction.
Here’s what you can do to ease your symptoms at home:
The following over-the-counter (OTC) products can help manage your symptoms:
If you have a history of severe allergies, your doctor might recommend injectable epinephrine. This medication, often called an EpiPen, can stop anaphylaxis.
If you develop anaphylaxis after getting a mosquito bite, get medical help immediately.
Also visit a doctor if you get a mosquito bite and have:
In most cases, a doctor can diagnose a mosquito allergy by looking at your mosquito bite. They can do this during a physical exam.
During the exam, they’ll check your bite for the following signs:
If the doctor thinks you have a mosquito bite allergy, they might have you meet with an allergist.
It’s not possible to prevent skeeter syndrome. That’s because you can’t control how your immune system reacts to certain proteins.
If you have skeeter syndrome, the best way to prevent a reaction is to reduce your risk of mosquito bites. It’s also important to create a treatment plan with a doctor.
This way, if you’re bitten by a mosquito, you’ll be able to prevent a bad reaction before it happens.
There are several ways to reduce or prevent mosquito bites if you have skeeter syndrome:
Skeeter syndrome is a rare inflammatory condition. It involves an exaggerated immune reaction to mosquito bites.
Possible symptoms include swelling, high fever, firm welts, and blisters. Sometimes, it can cause anaphylaxis, a life threatening reaction.
If you have skeeter syndrome, the best way to prevent a bad reaction is to reduce your risk of mosquito bites. Your doctor may also recommend injectable epinephrine to prevent anaphylaxis.
Last medically reviewed on May 29, 2022
Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.
May 29, 2022
Medically Reviewed By
Marc Meth, MD, FACAAI, FAAAI
Copy Edited By
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