How to differentiate between rash from a mosquito bite and other skin rashes?

Mosquito bites are not uncommon. In most people, mosquito bites may not cause much harm but they may spread diseases such as malaria and dengue. Mosquitoes complete their life cycle near stagnant water and, hence, are generally found in such areas.

Why do mosquito bites happen?

The female mosquitoes are dependent on blood for egg production which is why they bite humans. The skin reaction to a mosquito bite results from the toxins present in the saliva of the mosquito. When they bite, it injects the saliva into the skin. These toxins cause the blood vessels at the site of the bite to dilate causing local redness. In most people, the skin reaction to a mosquito bite will be mild whereas, in some others, the reaction involves redness, swelling and pain at the site of the bite. This reaction appears within minutes of the bite, described Dr Subodh Sirur, Consultant Dermatology, Masina Hospital, Mumbai.

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In children, the skin reaction to the bite tends to be more severe than in adults. Severe reactions can be accompanied by a low-grade fever and enlarged lymph nodes. Generally, there will be a history of mosquito bites prior to the onset of the skin lesion. There will be red raised skin lesions with a central bite mark. The skin rash would be localised to the site of the bite. These features help in making a diagnosis of skin reaction to a mosquito bite. However, these findings may be modified due to scratching by the patient leading to excoriations, said Dr Sirur.

rashes Some people may show severe reaction to a mosquito rash (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

How to differentiate?

Skin lesions in viral infections would be more generalised than localised and would be generally accompanied by fever and malaise. Allergy to medication can also cause a skin rash. It is generally widespread and there would be a history of intake of medication. Allergy to certain chemicals can also cause a skin rash. An accurate history and clinical findings help in making a diagnosis. A skin rash due to a mosquito bite would respond in most cases to symptomatic treatment.

However, if the rash persists or if it is accompanied by fever, body ache or other complaints it is advisable to consult your doctor for further management. You must use mosquito repellants to avoid mosquito bites as the concern is not only of the skin rash but also of the mosquito bite leading to diseases such as malaria and dengue.

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