Can Mosquitoes Bite Through Clothes?

Last Updated: 12.12.19

 

Mosquitos are, by no means, friendly insects. Because mosquito season is just around the corner, you might want to check out this buying guide that includes reviews of mosquito zappers, as it might feature just the type of info that you need.

In this short but informative entry, we have decided to talk to you about whether or not mosquitoes can bite even when one is wearing clothes.

 

Can mosquitos bite through clothing?

Sadly, the answer to this question is yes. Not only can these insects bite through sheer fabrics such as those used to make yoga pants and t-shirts, but they can also bite through thicker fabrics. So, all of us are vulnerable to bites, regardless of the kind of clothing that we are wearing.

The reason why mosquitos are able to do so has to do with the fact that they have a long proboscis that they can stick through the fibers of your clothing and into your skin. The proboscis is a needle-like elongated sucking mouthpart that has a tubular shape and that is highly flexible.

It has been argued that mosquitoes find it more difficult to bite a person that is wearing loose clothes that are made of synthetic fibers, rather than thick, tightly fit ones. This is true because, in the case of clothing pieces such as jeans and jackets that stay stuck to the skin, the insects can easily penetrate them and reach the skin.

What is more, it should be said that only female mosquitoes feed on blood and, thus, they are the ones that are prone to bite you. Male mosquitoes only feed on nectar. While females can also eat nectar, they need the protein that they take from one’s blood to help their eggs develop.

Can one prevent bites?

If you want to make sure that you won’t fall easy prey to mosquitoes, there are, of course, a couple of things that you could do. To start, when you go out at night, you can start wearing looser clothes and avoid the tight-fitting ones.

Additionally, some recommend that you spray your clothes with mosquito spray before you go out. If you intend to go hiking or to do sports in an area where these insects are a real issue, using a repellent is a must, as these bugs are attracted by carbon discharges. So, by utilizing a repellent, you can be sure that these pests will stay away from you.

If you dread the idea of using special repellents that were created using chemical substances, keep in mind that there are some essential oils that you can use and enjoy similar results. For example, you can use lavender, thyme, citronella or peppermint oils to do the job. There are numerous step-by-step recipes that are available online and that you can try at home.

Another thing that you could do is invest in bug-proof clothes. To meet the needs of people who love spending time in the outdoors at night, some retailers have started to produce and distribute clothing specially created to protect the wearer from bug bites.  

 

Are mosquito bites dangerous?

Medical experts have pointed out that, while some bites are harmless, some female mosquitoes that carry dangerous diseases pose a serious danger. For instance, these insects can cause Malaria. According to reports, approximately 438,000 people from all around the globe died from this disease in 2015 alone.

Some other diseases that mosquitoes carry are the West Nile virus, Dengue fever, the Zika virus, and Chikungunya. The risk of you being infected with the viruses that cause life-threatening diseases is limited, especially if you live in the U.S.A. However, if you plan on traveling abroad to countries in Central America, Africa, or Asia, you should talk to a healthcare provider before you go, so that you can be vaccinated.

Can they spread HIV?

One misconception about mosquitoes is that they can spread HIV. This assertion is not correct. When they feed off a person that is infected with HIV, the virus is broken down in the gut of the insect. Because mosquitoes do not have T cells that HIV can bind to, it cannot replicate and it cannot migrate to the salivary glands of the mosquito.

Even more so, during the digestive process, the virus is completely destroyed by the insect’s organism.

Another reason why this cannot happen has to do with the fact that HIV circulates in human blood at low levels. A single mosquito carries an insufficient amount of HIV positive blood.

Theoretically speaking, it would take no less than ten million mosquito bites for a unit of HIV to be transferred to a person. If you accidentally swallow a mosquito you should also not fear that your life is in danger.

 

What are the symptoms?

As you probably know, there are a few symptoms that shortly follow a bite. First things first, you are prone to observe a red bump forming around the place of the bite that is normally accompanied by an itching sensation. Swelling, redness, dark spots and small blisters that have the shape of hard bumps are also common.

Children, as well as people with a compromised immune system also experience hives, fever, and swollen glands.

In rare cases, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology has noted that a mosquito bite can also cause anaphylaxis, meaning, a severe allergic reaction.

These cases are dangerous because, when the patient is not treated accordingly, his/her life can be put in danger. So, if you have a serious allergic reaction to a bite, be sure to seek medical care immediately.

 

How to treat bites

Mosquito bites heal pretty rapidly and they do not leave scars. However, the irritation that accompanies bites can be rather difficult to stand. To reduce irritation, there are a couple of steps that you can take.

Firstly, it is recommended that you resist the urge to actually scratch the bite, as this can lead to an infection. Instead, it is best that you wash the blister gently with soap and water and that you avoid bursting them.

An ice pack can be quite practical to use, as it can reduce the swelling and the pain associated with bites. Some experts also advise in favor of taking long baths to alleviate discomfort. You should not use soap while doing so.

Plus, applying a cream that includes hydrocortisone, or a special solution that was created to be used to treat itchiness and swelling might also help. In severe cases, where the swelling does not go away, oral antihistamines are recommended. Still, you should avoid taking drugs without the supervision of a healthcare assistant.

 

When is it time to see a doctor?

In case your reaction to a bite is accompanied by symptoms such as rashes, fever, headaches, and pain, it is best that you contact a doctor urgently.

 

Risk factors

As researchers have noted, it is difficult to say why mosquitoes target some people more than others. A study from 2013 pointed out that female mosquitoes have special sensors that analyze the body odor and the carbon emissions of each person in close proximity.

This way, they are able to determine the people that are the best food sources. One’s body heat, his/her levels of lactic acid, and sweat are also elements that attract these insects.

 

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