Ah, summer. The season most people love because of the long days, sunshine, trips to the pool, and warm nights. But with summer comes all of the bugs from their winter hiding places, and the risk of getting a mosquito bite on your eyelid.
One of the most pervasive insects is the seemingly frail mosquito. For most people, a mosquito bite on the eyelid or other part of the body is irritating at best for a few days. But these little flies (the literal Spanish translation) kill over 1 million people yearly due to the diseases they carry, making them the world’s deadliest insect.¹
Luckily, mosquito-borne illnesses are relatively low in the United States, as only 12 of the over 200 species of mosquitoes spread germs that make people sick.¹
For awareness of how bug bites affect the eyes, this article explains what happens if you get a mosquito bite on your eyelid, how to know it’s not something else, and what to do to get relief from the irritation.
- Getting a mosquito bite on your eyelid is typically not a very serious eye injury.
- Some groups, like young children and people with compromised immune systems, may experience more intense symptoms.
- You can usually treat a bug bite on your eyelid quickly and easily at home.
What Happens When a Mosquito Bites You
Maybe you’ve been bitten hundreds of times by mosquitoes but aren’t really sure why they cause the reaction they do in your body.
Mosquitoes are blood-sucking flies. They use the pointy part of their mouth called a proboscis to suck blood from their victim.² Sounds a little Dracula-like, right?
When they bite and begin sucking blood, they inject some of their saliva into the skin. The saliva is what causes your body to react by swelling and itching.²
How to Know If You Have a Mosquito Bite On Your Eyelid
Most of us know what it feels like when a mosquito leaves its mark. But, when it comes to your eyes, you may not expect the bite to occur in that area and associate it with other eye conditions.
If you’re concerned at all about unusual symptoms on your eyelids or the surrounding area, always consult with your eye doctor. They will rule out other eye conditions and determine if a bug bite is really the culprit.
Signs and Symptoms
With a mosquito bite, you’ll start to experience symptoms within minutes to a few hours after being bitten.
When it comes to your eyelids, the skin is a bit more delicate, so you may experience more widespread swelling than you would on other parts of your body:²
- Small to medium-sized red bump within minutes after the bite
- Swollen eyelid
- Itching ranging from mild to intense
- Hard, red, or brownish bump a day or so after the bite
- Eventually, the bite spot may look like a blister with minimal itching
Possible Complications from Mosquito Bites on the Eyelid
Everyone has different reactions to bug bites. For some, a mosquito bite on the eyelid may trigger an allergic reaction, leading to intense swelling, red eyes, and pain. If you expose the bite area by scratching your skin, you could develop a bacterial infection, commonly referred to as cellulitis.³
Rare cases of mosquito bites can lead to more serious, widespread symptoms all over your body. If you are aware of mosquito disease outbreaks in your area, you should immediately see a doctor for medical advice.
Pediatric Mosquito Bites and Child Symptoms
Young children may experience bug bites and stings differently than adults. Because they have “young” immune systems, a mosquito bite may trigger a low grade fever, hives or swollen lymph nodes, in addition to eye swelling and itching.²
When it’s Not a Mosquito Bite: Similar Eye Problems
Suppose you don’t live in an area with a large mosquito population or haven’t been outdoors and developed similar symptoms to those above. In that case, you may be suffering from another eye condition or infection.
Treating a Bug Bite on your Eyelid
You can follow a few simple home remedies for most eyelid insect bites to manage symptoms. If you or your child develops more severe symptoms around your eyes or other parts of your body, seek medical attention immediately to ensure the mosquito didn’t transmit a disease.
Clean the Area
Use a clean cloth with mild soap or an eyelid wipe like CorneaCare’s Rise wipe to gently clean the area and prevent bacteria from entering the wound.²
You can continue cleaning or wiping the eyelids once or twice a day until the bite irritation disappears.
Use a Cold Compress
A cold compress on your eyelids may help reduce swelling and provide cooling relief from the itchiness.² After the initial bite, taking some time to rest your eyes and using a cold compress throughout the day may help speed up recovery.
You can use a cold pack from your freezer, but it may be hard to position on your eyelid.
CorneaCare’s Rescue Self-Cooling cold compresses are great to keep on hand for situations like this! They require no refrigeration or freezing and provide cool comfort for up to fifteen minutes. Because they are individually wrapped, they are great to keep on hand when traveling, camping, and venturing off to enjoy outdoor activities over the summer.
Try an Antihistamine
Some doctors recommend antihistamines (allergy medicine like Benadryl) to relieve itching and swelling. You can take these orally or apply topically as a cream, depending on what your eye doctor recommends.²
Keep in mind that some antihistamines can cause you to experience dry eye symptoms, so you may need to supplement with an artificial tear eye drop. like a vasoconstrictor eye drop such as Visine. If the eye redness is severe, you may consider using Visine, a vasoconstrictor eye drop that constricts blood vessels in your eyes to reduce redness.⁴
However, these types of eye drops, especially when used on children, can cause a rebound effect leading to red eyes if used for multiple days, so it’s best to limit their use to only one to two days after the bite.⁵
How to Prevent a Mosquito Bite on Your Eyelid
Although getting bit by a mosquito is not 100% avoidable, there are some steps you can take to lessen your chances of getting bitten by a mosquito.²
- Avoid wearing strong perfumes or fragrances outside.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents (although be careful to avoid your eye area!).
- Control mosquitoes from hanging around outside by covering or removing any standing water and avoiding using bright lights near where you are located outdoors.
- For children, ask your pediatrician at your next well visit how you can keep your child’s eyes safe while outside if you live in a high mosquito population or there are mosquito-borne illnesses going around.
Putting It All Together
Insect bites are a nuisance for most people, but when it comes to your eyes, it’s good to know how to find relief quickly and what to look for when it comes to children and others with compromised immune systems.
Being aware of eye dangers is key to keeping your eyes safe and enjoying your summers for the rest of your life!
Want to learn more about keeping your child’s eyes safe and healthy? Check out related articles in our Eye Health and Wellness section.