UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pediatrics

Title: Skeeter Syndrome

Posted: 5/31/2024 by Rachel Wiltjer, DO (Updated: 6/22/2024)
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Histamine is present in mosquito saliva contributing to itch with bites, however, certain populations – including children – can experience an exaggerated reaction. Skeeter syndrome is a large, localized inflammatory reaction secondary to a mosquito bite that presents with warmth, swelling, and itching. There can occasionally be associated lymphadenopathy and fever as well. The rapid onset is what best differentiates it from cellulitis. Treatment is primarily symptomatic in nature, focused on relieving itch, with antihistamines and topical therapy. There may also be a role for prophylactic antihistamine usage at times when mosquito bites will be unavoidable in a patient known to have developed Skeeter syndrome previously. Other patients who may be affected include those with immunologic and autoimmune phenomena, those with underlying atopy, outdoor workers with frequent exposure, and those with new exposure to indigenous mosquitos. 

Take Home: Consider insect (mosquito bite) when evaluating for cellulitis/infection in pediatric patients, with impressive skin findings but otherwise unremarkable exams. They present with rapid onset and itching instead of pain. This can be especially prominent in periorbital and auricular presentations.

References

Vander Does A, Labib A, Yosipovitch G. Update on mosquito bite reaction: Itch and hypersensitivity, pathophysiology, prevention, and treatment. Front Immunol. 2022 Sep 21;13:1024559