You Must Know About Insect Bites and Stings

You Must Know About Insect Bites and Stings


What does an insect bite look like?

Usually, a bug bite has a pink or sometimes even red appearance. They can be flat or raised. Sometimes they might have a pimple or blister-like appearance.  It just all depends on what bit you.


How to identify a bug bite?

Well, that can be a little more complicated.   Bug bites can be from a variety of bugs, such as spiders, mosquitos, bees, scorpions, fleas, ticks, chiggers, bed bugs, fire ants,  and the list goes on and on…

To break it down a little here are some clues:

*Bed bugs-leave a small bite mark on the skin that is red and itchy, or rarely cause a severe allergic reaction.

*Beestings-obviously they hurt at first, we all know that pain, but can cause a red bump with white around it.

*Flea bites- leave an itchy welt on the skin, they often are seen on the ankles and legs.

*Mosquitoes-leave a raised, itchy skin bump, rarely they can cause a severe allergic reaction. Mosquitoes can carry viruses like the Zika virus, harmful to pregnant women, West Nile Virus, malaria, or the eastern equine encephalitis referred to as (EEE).  

For most people the Zika virus causes a brief flu-like illness.  The newborns of pregnant women that were exposed to Zika had an alarming rate of microcephaly birth defects.  West Nile virus symptoms are also flu-like, fever/chills, muscle aches, however people exposed may develop meningitis or encephalitis (brain and spine irritation, swelling), and this can be very serious.  Malaria infection from a mosquito bite can lead to flu-like symptoms, but it is treatable with anti-malarial medications that are widely available throughout the world.

**Protecting yourself from mosquito bites.  Avoid being outside from dusk to dawn, using insect repellent, covering exposed skin, burning a citronella candle outside, and keep free standing water to a minimum near your home.

*Spider bites-they cause minor symptoms like red skin, swelling, and pain at the site, or very serious symptoms that require emergency care. *Ticks– can carry “Lyme disease”, and their bite leaves a rash that looks like an expanding bull’s-eye.


When should I be concerned about a bug bite?

Well, that depends upon what bit you…

For instance, if you have a bee sting and you are allergic this requires immediate medical attention, such as epinephrine. Depending how allergic you are this can be life threatening!

SEEK MEDICAL CARE!!

If you have a mosquito bite, a wait and watch approach is recommended.  It is important to keep the area of skin clean.  Using an antibacterial soap and water can be helpful.  If the area appears to be infected, such as increased redness, warmth to the touch, pus, increased pain at the site, or swelling you need to seek medical advice.  Usually a simple course of antibiotics provided by your medical provider will take care of the infection.  **This is something easily treated via Telehealth.

Spider bites can be dangerous depending on what spider bit you. Depending on where you live, it is important to get “familiar” with spiders in your area.  In the U.S. the only dangerous spiders are the Black Widow, and the Brown Recluse.  If you suspect either one of these have bitten you, seek medical help immediately! 

Ticks can bury themselves under the skin, and may lead to the development of Lyme’s disease. It’s important if you think you have a tick bite, to carefully remove the tick from your skin by using tweezers. Carefully remove the tick without squeezing the skin, and place it in a plastic bag for identification, ie., possible testing in the future.  Prevention is key!  Wearing long pants, covering exposed skin, avoid wooded areas, applying insect repellents that contain at least  20 % DEET, and avoiding areas where ticks live and breed is the best advice. 

While hiking is nice, be safe!!!
Flea Bites (to include Bed Bugs, and Chiggers) While gross, they usually don’t carry disease.  Scratching the bites, however, can lead to infection.  If you experience any of the symptoms of infection, redness, swelling, pus, fever/chills you need to contact your medical provider so you can be evaluated. The key message here is NOT TO SCRATCH!!

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