(ORDO NEWS) — The closer we get to understanding why some people get bitten by mosquitoes, the closer we get to curbing the spread of diseases carried by blood-sucking insects.
New research suggests that the acidic composition of your skin may be the deciding factor in your attractiveness to mosquitoes.
The smell of human skin is determined by a mixture of organic compounds – the exact composition of which we still do not know exactly, and we do not know how it can change over time.
Most people are familiar with body odor, which can come from places like the armpits, but what about less obvious odors in areas of our body that are more prone to insect bites?
To find out, the researchers collected human skin odor samples by having people who were constantly bitten by mosquitoes wear nylon stockings on their forearms.
They then did the same for a group of lucky people who were almost never bitten by mosquitoes. The scientists compared the smell of people who were either attractive or unattractive to mosquitoes.
Their results showed that human attractiveness to mosquitoes persisted for several months and was associated with an abundance of carboxylic acids, a group of organic acids containing a carboxyl group.
The finding ties in with earlier studies in mice that showed that malaria infection can cause a surge of similar compounds, making mice more attractive to mosquitoes.
“Very attractive subjects had significantly increased levels of three carboxylic acids – pentadecanoic, heptadecanoic and non-adecanic acids, as well as 10 unknown compounds of the same chemical class,” the study authors write.
“The specific mixture of these and other carboxylic acids varied in different subjects with high attractiveness.
Therefore, there can be several ways for a person to be very attractive to mosquitoes.”
Researchers have found that a person may have mosquito-attracting agents that increase the risk of being bitten, but there do not appear to be any mosquito repellents that can help a person avoid being bitten.
The authors of the study note that while they do not have enough evidence to pinpoint the abundance of carboxylic acids as a causal factor in our attractiveness to mosquitoes.
The only way to do this is to somehow remove carboxylic acids from human skin, which is known to be attractive to mosquitoes . Unfortunately, the researchers say it’s technically impossible to do so.
However, scientists are getting closer to understanding why some people are bitten by disease-carrying mosquitoes, and thus closer to finding a way to prevent bites and contain the spread of dangerous diseases.
Contact us: [email protected]