How long do mosquito bites last? Here’s why you shouldn’t scratch them.

On long summer days, there’s almost nothing better than relaxing in the park, sprawled out on the grass, soaking up the warm sunshine. While the idea of being able to spend more time outside is one that we rejoice at, warmer weather brings mosquitoes, and unfortunately, mosquito bites.

Mosquito bites are a nuisance, and sometimes, the itchiness of a bite feels unbearable in the moment. However, once the initial redness and swelling of your bite has passed, you’ll be pleased to hear that these bites really don’t last that long. USA TODAY spoke with Dr. Courtney Cotter, DO, an allergy and immunology doctor at Nationwide Children's Hospital, to break down everything you need to know about managing your mosquito bite.

What are the stages of a mosquito bite?

Mosquito bites can happen when you least expect them, and oftentimes, because mosquito bites are typically painless, you might not even initially realize you’ve been bitten. However, within 20 minutes or so, you’ll start to notice some itching around the area of the bite, says Cotter.

When a mosquito bites you, it “will release a little bit of their saliva, which releases that itch response,” she says. In addition to itching, a red, hard bump will appear where you’ve been bitten. Though less common, mosquito bites may elicit more severe reactions for people with impaired immune systems. Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, hives, and large red patches, according to Healthline.

How long do mosquito bites last?

If you’re concerned about the redness, swelling, and relentless itchiness surrounding your mosquito bite, the good news is, your bite will likely peak within 24 to 48 hours after you’ve been bitten, Cotter says. From there, over the course of three to four days, the bump will continue to fade.

However, the time it takes for the mosquito bite to heal can vary depending on how much you’ve scratched or irritated it, she says. While a bite could potentially take up to a week to heal, typically no treatment is required, and in most cases the bite will disappear by itself, she adds.

Do mosquito bites last longer if you itch them?

Self-restraint is key here — resisting the urge to scratch your bite will help accelerate the healing process, and also prevent the possibility of infecting your bite. You’re “putting yourself at risk if you're scratching that mosquito bite open,” Cotter says. If “you're causing it to bleed or [creating] a little open wound,” your body may become vulnerable to a secondary infection.

More: How to get rid of mosquitoes in the house: Repel and kill pests with these tips

If you notice redness spreading in the area surrounding your bite, or if your bite becomes warm to the touch, these could be signs of an infected mosquito bite. More severe symptoms of infection, which may indicate you are experiencing cellulitis at the site of your mosquito bite, include a fever, swollen lymph nodes, pus, and red streaks around the bite, per WebMD.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How long do mosquito bites last? Why you shouldn't itch them

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