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Why do no-see-um bites swell up

No-see-um bites

No-see-ums are quite a nuisance. Their small size means you will not know they are coming, only to find that you have swollen, red, itchy spots days after the attack. If you’ve ever been bitten by a no-see-um, you may find yourself wondering what makes the bites swell. Here’s a closer look at the mechanics of the no-see-um bite and why it has that effect on your skin.

Initial Pain from the Bite

When you’re bit by a biting midge, you will probably feel a bit of pain. In fact, these bites hurt more than mosquito bites, leaving many people swatting at their skin in search of the invisible pests. The reason for the pain is the saw-like teeth on the small insects, which pierce the skin and cause an initial stink.

Red Dots Appear Later

Several hours or even days after your initial bite, you may start to notice small clusters of red dots on your skin. If left untreated, these can swell into large red welts. They may even grow up to two inches in diameter. Even though the insect is only 0.03 inches long, the bite it leaves behind can be massive.

What Makes You Swell?

So why does the bite swell, even after the fact? When the no-see-um bites you, the insect injects some of her saliva into your skin. The saliva causes a chemical reaction that makes the blood pool near the bite site. This helps her get her blood meal more quickly.

Unfortunately, most people are irritated by the saliva of these pesky critters. Once the bug leaves you, the saliva remains in your skin. It soon grows into a red, itchy spot as your body reacts to the presence of the saliva.

Sometimes, the itching causes you to scratch the bite area. This is a problem, because itching will only make it swell more. The more you scratch, the more irritated and swollen the area becomes.

Why Do Some People Swell While Others Don’t?

You may notice that some people seem to swell more when bitten than others. This is because of each individual’s unique sensitivity to the insect’s saliva. The more sensitive you are, the more likely you are to swell after being bitten, and the more severe the bite will be. This is why some people do not seem to be bothered in areas where no-see-ums are prevalent, while others appear to be seriously attacked. Chances are both people get bit, but only one reacts to the bites.

The swelling, itching, and pain of no-see-um bites is no fun, but thankfully it does not last forever. The bites eventually heal, leaving you with just the memory of their discomfort.

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