I just returned from a lovely vacation in Italy…well, it was mostly lovely, except for discovering that I am highly allergic to certain mosquitoes. These “foreign” mosquitoes are ones my body does not react well to, at all.
When I am bitten at home, I do not have the same reaction to the bites as I do from “foreign” mosquitoes. It is as if I have become immune to the mosquitoes in my own local, and occasionally I will get a larger welt around a bite, but that is it.
I am definitely not a fan of mosquito products that contain DEET, because they are so harmful to your health. I had brought with me some mosquito patches, as well as a homeopathic mosquito product, made here in Canada.
Additionally, I had a brought a blend of essential oils that are designed for use in the wilderness, where there are plenty of mosquitoes. You would think with all that going on I would have been ok, but apparently, mosquitoes love my aroma. We even purchased mosquito candles, but these little buggers were relentless!
It is the proteins in the saliva of the mosquitoes, that are injected into your body as the females bite you, which causes an allergic reaction in some people. I did some research and discovered it is called “Skeeter Syndrome”. No, I did not make that up.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “Skeeter Syndrome is a relatively rare inflammatory reaction to mosquito bites. Symptoms include a large area of swelling, heat, redness, and itching/pain which mimics an infectious process.”1. Well then, how did I get so lucky…
Everyone dislikes mosquitoes, and being bitten is annoying, as the itching can drive one mad! When you are allergic to the bites however, the problem isn’t just itching. In fact, it can cause anaphylactic shock, asthma and other life threatening complications2 in extreme cases, so please do not take this lightly if you start experiencing bad reactions to bites. Other reactions include swelling of the affected limbs. Sometimes the bite will blister and ooze and the swelling can be painful, and can present with a low grade fever and general malaise.
In my case, huge blisters formed a few days after the bites were received. I took pictures for my doctor, but as you can see, it sure wasn’t pretty! I also had a fever and felt very tired, as my body tried to deal with the inflammation.
The blisters continued to grow larger after these pictures were taken. Yuck. They were very unsightly, and I covered them with bandages so people didn’t think I had some horrible disease or something.
Most people with Skeeters have reactions to bites from the knee down, and I was no exception. I am thankful however, that the blisters didn’t happen on every bite, or on areas other than my lower legs and feet. It was impossible to get a pair of shoes on with these blistering bites, so I spent many days just in flip-flops.
Come evening-time on my vacation, I disappeared inside, which was tough considering how beautiful it was where we were staying. It just wasn’t worth the risk of being bitten though, as the blisters where not only itchy, but painful too.
In this second set of pictures, I could feel the blister starting to form (as you can see here), and within 6 hours it was huge, as you can see from the second picture! The pressure was so great, and it was so uncomfortable, that I had to carefully puncture the blister and drain it; which everyone says you should never do, because you risk infection.
Thankfully, we had our first-aid kit with us, so I did not have a problem. The blister filled right back up though, so I did not drain it a second time. It eventually burst on its own a few days later because of the pressure. I was able to disinfect it right away and change the bandage.
I used lavender essential oil where there was angry redness (see the area around the blister in the second picture below), since the blister was not oozing or open. It took a few days, but it seemed to really help with healing the bites. I also put lavender essential oil on any fresh bites, which I think stopped them from blistering like the other ones I had not treated.
Since my body’s immune system was clearly under strain trying to fight this nastiness, I took extra care to consume a lot of immune boosting foods and beverages, so that I could help my body fight infection and begin to heal.
As luck would have it, we had a lime tree in the yard where we were staying, so I loaded up with vitamin C to help boost my immune system. I also used a drop of food-grade organic lemon essential oil in my water daily to do the same.
Naturally, I had brought several of my regular supplements with me on the trip, which helped my immune system to keep up too. I also had instant Chaga Mushroom Tea with me, which is excellent for the immune system3 and these packets were very travel-friendly*! Lastly, I made sure to get plenty of sunshine every day, to boost my immunity, because vitamin D is an amazing immune system enhancer.4
Here in Canada, mosquito season is definitely over, but if you are travelling to a warm place over the winter, then chances are, you could be going somewhere that has mosquitoes. With a little preparation you can hopefully avoid being bitten. If you do have a reaction like I did, make sure you see a doctor if you feel really ill and/or any signs of a bad infection occur.
I did end up going to a pharmacy and getting some anti-histamines for the itch, which did seem to alleviate some of the discomfort, so perhaps you might want to pack some of those too! I know I’ll never travel without them again. Happy Trails to you!
* If you want to pick some of these up for travel, or even just everyday convenience: Receive 10% off your order from RawElements.ca when you use the code “RSN10” at the checkout.