About all

Allergy looks like bug bites: Hives (Urticaria): Causes, Treatment and Prevention


Normal vs. Allergic Reactions to Bug Bites and Stings

If you make it though childhood summers without getting bitten or stung by an insect, count yourself lucky.

Daniel Schnaar, M.D., is a Beaumont pediatrician. He said parents in his office frequently ask the same question: How will I know if my child is allergic to a sting or bite?

Start with the small bugs

Mosquitoes are the unofficial mascot of summertime. They don’t sting, they bite.

“Allergic reactions are common with mosquito bites and usually happens in the first 12 hours,” explained Dr. Schnaar. “The bite gets bigger, pink, itchy and warm. Getting bitten by a mosquito is not a serious threat for an allergic reaction.”

If you are allergic to mosquito bites, the reaction will stay in the area of the bite. Reach for a cold compress, antihistamine such as Benadryl, and 1 percent hydrocortisone cream for itch relief.

More common than allergic reactions to mosquito bites are skin infections.

“We have seen an increase in skin infections in the office,” said Dr. Schnaar. “What happens is your itch a bite with dirty hands and 24 to 48 hours after the bite, it’s a darker red color, it’s more painful than itchy and the redness starts to spread. If a bite increases in size after 24 hours and you see redness starting to spread away from the initial area, it’s important to see your doctor to get an antibiotic.”

On to the big insects

Larger insects such as bees, wasps and yellow jackets are another story. They have a stinger in their backend that’s connected to an abdomen pocket full of venom. When you get stung, they inject the venom under your skin.

“The concern about the venomous insects is that some people develop an allergic reaction. When you have an allergy to the insect venom, the part of your body that got stung, will swell up. So, if you get stung on your leg, your whole limb might swell. You might also get hives all over your body, not just in the area of the sting, along with shortness of breath, trouble breathing, a swollen tongue and agitation. That’s more serious and deserves a call to 9-1-1.”

A normal reaction to a sting includes pain in the area and a slightly swollen bump. For those cases, a cold compress and a dose of antihistamine is all you need. However, you might not have a serious allergic reaction the first time you’re stung. It could take two or three times before your body fully reacts.

If you do get stung, remember to scrape or flick the stinger out of your skin. Don’t use tweezers to pull it out because you could squeeze more venom from the stinger into your skin. Use your finger nail, a credit card or something with a dull edge instead.

Prevention is the best antidote to summer bug bites, though, so get out the bug repellent, be aware of your surroundings and remember to have fun.

MYSTERY BITES: Insect and Non-Insect Causes

ENTFACT-649 – MYSTERY BITES: Insect and Non-Insect Causes  |  Download PDF

by Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist 

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture 

Nearly everyone experiences what seem like bug bites from time to time. The irritation might be accompanied by welts, rash, itching, or perhaps the feeling that something is crawling over the skin. Even when no bugs are apparent, the annoyance can be enough to trigger a call to an exterminator. Unfortunately, pesticides might not be the answer. Unless the underlying cause is discovered, the discomfort will likely continue. 

It is important to realize that there are many causes of bite-like reactions — some of which are related to pests, and others that are not. Pest management professionals can usually provide relief if insects or mites are the culprit. If no pests are found, the customer may need to see a dermatologist or other allied professional. The following information is intended to help those who believe they have a biting pest problem where the source of irritation has not been identified.      


The cause of perceived ‘bug-bites’ is often far from obvious. Investigations should be thoughtful and systematic, ruling out likely possibilities through the process of elimination. A good rule of thumb in such cases is that no pesticide should be applied unless biting pests or clear evidence of them are discovered or strongly suspected. A thorough investigation is more likely to yield a solution. 

Treating without a known target pest can mislead the client into thinking that spraying will fix the problem, which it seldom does. Additional (unnecessary) treatments may be requested thereafter whenever someone complains of an itch. 

To conduct a careful investigation, it is useful to interview the client before inspecting the premises. In commercial settings such as an office building, this may involve talking with management as well as affected employees. A questionnaire (see the bottom of this page for the questionnaire, or view this downloadable PDF version) can be helpful for gathering facts that may solve the mystery. One of the most important questions to ask is if anyone has actually seen or captured any bugs as the irritation is occurring. With a few notable exceptions (e.g., bed bugs, certain types of mites), most pests that bite humans are likely to be seen as the irritation is felt. It’s also important to consider the pattern of bites within the building – e.g. are several people affected or just a few? Where are incidents being reported? Is there an association between the onset of symptoms and certain maintenance activities, such as the installation of new carpet, or work on the heating and cooling system? Have there been birds, bats, rodents, or other animals that could possibly be harboring parasites? Such questions can yield important clues worthy of further investigation.       


Mystery bite investigations differ from most other pest inspections because the ‘culprit’ is unknown. The list of potential irritants is long and many fall outside the realm of pest control. Inspections should initially seek to determine if biting pests are involved. If they are not, customers may still want to know about other factors that may be causing the discomfort.     

During the investigation, various specimens could require identification. Those that are small will require magnification to see clearly. Ideally, specimens should be placed in non-crushable containers instead of in envelopes or under tape. Another method of capture is to install several glue traps at locations where bites have been reported. Although such traps are not always reliable, they are another potential tool that could help determine if biting pests are present. 

Fig. 2: Glue traps can help to reveal pests capable of causing irritation.

Persons complaining of invisible mites or insects crawling over their skin are sometimes advised to place strips of clear cellophane tape over the affected area while the sensations are occurring. Unfortunately, this seldom reveals the cause of a mystery bite problem. Neither does collecting samples from carpet and floors with a vacuum. Industrial hygienists may use suction devices for collecting fibers and air-borne contaminants, but vacuuming by householders seldom reveals biting pests and samples are tedious to sort through and process. The appearance of bites or welts on the body can also provide clues, although ‘bug bites’ are difficult to diagnose, even by physicians. 

Fig. 3: ‘Bug bites’ are difficult to diagnose, even by physicians.

The most useful tactic for these cases is knowing where and what to look for. With mystery bites, the list of potential irritants is extensive.        


Irritations of unknown origin may be from arthropods (insects or mites) or a multitude of other factors which have nothing to do with pests. Below are the more common sources worthy of consideration. 

Obscure Biting Pests

In some mystery bite cases, insects or mites truly are the culprit. These are some that should be foremost in the minds of inspectors. 

Bed bugs have become increasingly common and should always be considered a possibility in mystery bite investigations. People are usually bitten at night while they are sleeping. Initially the bite is painless and victims seldom know they are being bitten. The typical reaction is itchy red welts on exposed skin appearing within a day or so of the incident – although there can be a delayed reaction over a matter of days in some cases. Others have little or no reaction to the bites. Since bed bugs also remain well-hidden, victims often are bitten repeatedly yet never see an insect. Confirmation requires finding the bugs, shed skins or dark fecal spots of digested blood, which can be difficult especially in the early stages of infestation. 

Fig. 4: Bed bugs should always be considered a possibility in mystery bite investigations.

Because bed bugs are cryptic and nocturnal, visual inspection alone sometimes fails to reveal their presence. Various devices are available to help detect their presence. Among the most popular detection methods are small plastic dishes (e.g. ClimbUp®), that wandering bed bugs crawl or fall into but cannot escape due to the slippery inner surface. Typically, the devices are placed under the legs of beds and seating, or close by.

Fig. 5: Dish-shaped traps can be placed under beds and sofas to help monitor for bed bugs. 

When bed bug-like insects are found, it is important to consider whether bats, birds or other wild hosts are involved. Although similar in appearance to the kind of bed bug that prefers humans, bat bugs and bird bugs require different management procedures.    

Fleas are another common source of insect bites within homes. Fleas are fast moving and jump when disturbed. However, because they are brownish and about 1/8″ long, they are usually noticed. Bites typically occur around the lower legs and ankles, producing a small, red, hardened, itchy welt. Fleas are most often associated with pets, although the presence of mice, rats, squirrels, skunks, possums or raccoons can also result in infestations. Animal hosts need to be present for extended periods for fleas to become established — a brief visit by a dog or cat, for example, is unlikely to cause problems. Infestations can be confirmed by examining pets, installing traps (e.g., myFleaTrap®), or walking the premises in white socks pulled high (which makes the presence of the pests more obvious). 

Fig. 6: Fleas generally bite low on the leg, whereas bed bugs attack any exposed skin.

Lice are another possible source of itching and irritation. Infestations occur on the head and other hairy areas of the body. Lice are tiny, whitish-grey insects that are visible under close examination by the client or physician. Because they largely remain on the host, treatment of premises is not required nor is it recommended. The types of lice that bite humans are mainly acquired through close personal contact or sharing of hats or combs.   

Fig. 7: Lice cause itching and irritation but are easy to diagnose.

Mites are tiny pests that occasionally bite and irritate people. Some feed on animals, others infest stored foods, and some dwell outdoors in vegetation. Contrary to popular belief, most mites that bite people in buildings are large enough to be seen with the naked eye. There also is no such thing as a ‘cable’, ‘computer’ or ‘paper’ mite — these terms are purely fictitious. Mite infestations in buildings can result from birds nesting in eaves, attics, etc., or from mice or rats. When a bird or rodent dies or leaves the nest, thousands of parasitic mites can migrate indoors and bite humans. Domestic fowl (chickens, parakeets, etc.), gerbils and hamsters also may harbor mites capable of biting people. Bird and rodent mites are tiny, but appear as dark slow-moving specks — they are about the size of a period. Mites cannot jump or fly. 

Fig. 8:  Mites infesting birds and other animals sometimes also bite people.        

A few parasitic mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye. The human scabies mite burrows into the skin, causing intense itching accompanied by a rash. Skin between fingers, wrists, elbows and shoulder blades are areas most often affected. Transmission of scabies mites occurs only through close personal contact or sharing the same bed. Fortunately, scabies is a rather rare condition that is readily diagnosed by dermatologists and other competent physicians. No treatment of the premises is needed since these mites cannot survive off a human. 

Various mites living indoors also infest stored food products such as grains, meats, cheese and dried fruit. Food and mold mites tend to infest items stored for long periods that have become moist or moldy. Tremendous numbers may develop in such places as pet food bags, non-refrigerated smoked meats, or caged animal litter. At times populations may disperse outward from breeding sites and annoy humans. Food and mold mites do not suck blood but can irritate the skin. They appear as tiny, pale-colored slow-moving specs on dark surfaces.

Fig. 9: Mites infesting a bag of pet food.

Other mites that can bite humans live outdoors in vegetation. Chiggers (the immature stage of the harvest mite) live in tall weeds and dense vegetation. They crawl onto people and often attach where clothing fits tightly, such as around ankles, waist or armpits. Chigger bites produce hard red welts that begin itching intensely within 24 hours. Consequently, people may not associate the irritation with being bitten outdoors the day before. 

Fig. 10: Chigger bites produce hardened welts that itch intensely.

Another nearly microscopic biter, the straw itch mite, infests straw, grain or hay. Severe rash and itching results from handling infested materials in barns, stables, etc. Yet another type of itch mite inhabits the leaf galls of oak trees. In late summer or autumn, tremendous numbers of the mites can become airborne, landing on people. The bites are red, itchy, and painful, appearing on the face, neck, chest and arms. Fortunately, outbreaks of this mite are sporadic and have been reported mainly in the Midwest. Itch mites may be the culprit if the victim was outdoors near oak trees. Like chigger bites, the irritation may not be felt until the following day. Delayed reaction to bites is also common with ticks and mosquitoes, and from exposure to poison ivy/oak. Asking clients if they have spent time outdoors can help determine if such pests might be involved.                           

One additional mite worth mentioning is the house dust mite. Dust mites are common indoors where they feed on dander (bits of shed skin) from people and pets. Large numbers may persist in beds, couches and carpet, but are generally too small to be seen with the naked eye. People sometimes think dust mites are capable of causing itching and bite-like reactions but this is untrue. Their annoyance is limited to an ability to cause allergies, with symptoms such as stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, cough, watery eyes and asthma. Diagnostic kits for detecting house dust mites can be bought from pharmacies and allergy testing can be performed by a physician.                 

Thrips are tiny (1/16″) straw-colored insects that feed on plants. They have piercing mouthparts for sucking plant juices but can also bite humans. The bite feels like a pinprick. In late summer, huge numbers of these insects may become airborne, landing on people’s clothing and skin. Some also may be transported on air currents into factories, warehouses, etc. Although houseplants are seldom the source for these or other biting pests, they are still worth checking during inspections.          

Sand flies, also called biting gnats, punkies or no-see-ums, breed in swamps, marshes and other moist areas outdoors. They are vicious biters yet so small (1/32″- 1/8″) that their presence often goes unnoticed. Fortunately, biting flies seldom breed indoors. Several other tiny flies which are harmless (e.g., fungus gnats) do occur indoors, however, and will need to be identified to alleviate client concerns.

Spiders are often thought to be responsible for bites of unknown origin. In truth, most spiders are harmless, timid creatures and bites are a rare event. When spider bites do occur, it usually is in response to being crushed or threatened; they do not ‘pounce’ on a person as they would a fly. As with other potential biters, it is extremely difficult to diagnose a spider bite from the lesion alone. Lacking an actual spider doing the biting, such diagnoses even by physicians should be regarded as little more than a guess.            

Non-Pest Irritants

If the investigation reveals biting insects or mites, appropriate pest control measures can be taken. If no such pests are discovered, the person should be referred to a dermatologist, industrial hygienist, or other allied professional. Following are some of the more common (non-pest) irritants that these entities may consider.       

Household Products. Everyday items found in homes and buildings can cause skin reactions similar to ‘bug’ bites’. Products most often implicated include soaps, detergents and cleansers, cosmetics, hair products, medications, paper/cardboard, printing inks (as from multiform carbonless paper), and certain types of clothing, especially those containing fire retardants. Sometimes the location of the rash or irritation suggests the cause. For instance, a rash on hands and arms of factory workers might be due to cleaning compounds or materials they are handling such as cardboard.  If a connection can be made to one of these possible irritants, avoiding further exposure may solve the problem. A dermatologist can confirm that a particular product, rather than a pest, is responsible.

Environmental Factors. When multiple people experience itching and irritation in the absence of pests, the cause is often some irritant in the environment. Among the most common are tiny fragments of paper, fabric, or insulation. When these adhere to skin, they can produce symptoms ranging from a mild prickling or crawling sensation to intense itching accompanied by rash, welts or sores. If fibers or fragments are involved, the irritation usually occurs on exposed areas of the body —  arms, legs, face, neck, etc. Such problems are rather common where large amounts of paper or cardboard are processed, like offices, filing rooms, and distribution centers. New or badly worn carpets, drapes, and upholstery also shed fibers that can irritate skin. Laundering clothes or blankets in a washer/dryer previously used to clean curtains can likewise cause irritation due to the shedding of fiberglass and other materials. Other possibilities include sound-deadening fibers from ceiling tiles, or insulation fibers emitted from heating and cooling systems. These are especially likely if there has been recent repair work on the ceiling or air-handling system.

Fig. 11: Cardboard, fabric and insulation fibers can cause irritation mistaken for insect bites.

Irritation can be worsened by static electricity, which increases the attraction of particulates to exposed skin. Low humidity, electronic equipment, and nylon in carpeting, upholstery, or women’s stockings all increase levels of static electricity and the potential for particle-induced irritation. Static electricity also causes body hair to move, giving the impression something is crawling over the skin.

If fibers or fragments are suspected, floors, furniture and work surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned. In offices, static-reducing measures can be implemented, such as raising the humidity level of the air and installing static-resistant mats under chairs. Anti-static sprays can be used to treat seating areas. Dryness alone can also cause irritation, producing a condition known as ‘winter itch.’ As skin loses moisture, itching results — a particular problem during winter and in older people. Similar reactions may occur from changes in temperature that can make skin more sensitive. A skin moisturizer can be helpful in such situations, or consult with a dermatologist.  

Volatile indoor pollutants can also cause irritation. Although such compounds most often cause headaches or eye, nose, and throat discomfort, some may cause welts and rashes. Materials most often implicated include ammonia-based cleansers, formaldehyde emitted from materials such as plywood, carpet, and cardboard, tobacco smoke, and solvents and resins in paints and adhesives. Reactions often occur in industrial settings or buildings receiving new paint, wall or floor coverings. If indoor air pollutants are suspected, the client may want to contact an industrial hygienist to monitor for allergy-producing contaminants. Companies specializing in environmental health monitoring have online listings in most cities.

Medical Conditions. Health-related conditions also may cause symptoms mistaken for bug bites. Itching and irritation are common during pregnancy, especially during the last trimester. Similar symptoms are associated with diabetes, liver, kidney, and thyroid disorders, and herpes zoster (shingles). Food allergies and prescription or recreational drugs are other common causes of such symptoms. One’s overall emotional state, including stress at work or home, can also trigger skin irritation. Moreover, the response can be induced in other people simply by the ‘power of suggestion.’ When one person in a group experiences itching and irritation and talks about it, others often feel the urge to scratch as well.

Fig. 12: Methamphetamine and other psychostimulant drugs can cause symptoms that mimic insect bites.

Delusions of parasitosis is a more serious emotional disorder characterized by the conviction that living organisms are infesting one’s body. Delusory parasitosis patients have similar symptoms and patterns of behavior which tend to sound unusual. Patients typically report bugs or mites invading various areas of their body — often vanishing then reappearing, or perhaps changing colors while being observed. Specimens submitted for identification (often in great quantity) usually consist of bits of dead skin, hair, lint, and other debris. The individual’s skin may have become irritated from persistent scratching, bathing, and application of ointments and chemicals. Clothing and household items often are repeatedly washed or discarded. Sufferers commonly have visited one or more doctors with no definitive diagnosis or relief.

Fig. 13a: Delusions of parasitosis patients often submit numerous samples for identification.  

Fig. 13b: Self-inflicted scratches and scarring may also be evident.   

While these cases may seem bizarre, they are tragically real to the patient. Sufferers often are convinced that spraying insecticides will fix the problem — but treatment of the disorder lies outside the realm of pest control. Such cases should be referred to a dermatologist or mental health professional. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to convince affected individuals to seek professional help, except perhaps by involving another family member.     

SUMMARY. There is no simple way to diagnose ‘mystery bite’ complaints. Oftentimes, the itching or irritation has nothing to do with insects or mites and cannot be solved by pest control. Approaching each case in a thoughtful, methodical manner will increase the chances of finding a solution. Such sensations are real to the client, and should be addressed with care and concern.    

Revised 9/7/2018

CAUTION:  Some pesticides mentioned in this publication may not be legal in your area of the country. If in doubt, please consult your local cooperative extension service or regulatory agency. Furthermore, ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS FOR THE PRODUCT YOU ARE USING.  

Please note that content and photos in this publication are copyrighted material and may not be copied or downloaded without permission of the Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky.


  1. Area(s) within building where bites are occurring _______________________________
  2. Number of people with symptoms________
  3. When did problem first occur? ______________ Frequency of occurrence ___________

    Time of day ________________

  4. Description of symptoms (welts, rash, itching, etc.) _____________________________

    Area(s) of body affected ___________________________________

  5. Has patient seen a doctor (e.g., dermatologist)? If so, what was the diagnosis?


  6. Have insects or mites suspected of causing irritation been seen or captured? _______

    If so, were they identified by an entomologist or other competent professional? ______

  7. Are pets present (dog, cat, parakeet, gerbil, hamster, mice, etc. )? ______________
  8. Has there been infestation of birds, bats, rodents, raccoons, squirrels, etc. within past

    6 months? ________ If so, where in the building? ____________________________

  9. Has there been recent repair work in the building? (heating/cooling, ceiling, new carpet, paint, 

    furnishings)? ____________________________

  10. Have affected persons been outdoors hiking, camping, gardening or leaf raking?
  11. Have affected persons been traveling, staying in hotels, or acquired used beds or furnishings?


  12. Is there any evidence of non-pest irritants?  _____________________________  

How to Tell Bed Bugs and Hives Apart — Bed Bugs Insider

If your home has a bed bug problem, you might notice red, itchy welts on your skin. These are triggered by an allergic reaction to the saliva left behind when a bed bug bites you. However, red welts can also be a sign of hives, caused by an allergy to something else.

Bed bug bites are small, raised, itchy spots that appear 1-3 days after being bitten. They appear in clusters or lines. Individual reactions to bed bug bites can differ. Hives can appear in larger patches and have different patterns. The surrounding skin is usually red and inflamed.

It’s important to find out what’s causing the problem, so that you know how to resolve it. We’ll look at what bed bugs and hives are, and how you can tell hives from bed bug bites. We’ll also explore the recommended treatments for both hives and bed bugs.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are insects. They are distantly related to stink bugs and cicadas. But rather than feeding on sap from plants, bed bugs are parasites. They need to drink animal blood to survive.

Because bed bugs prefer human blood, they have adapted perfectly to life inside our homes. They thrive at normal room temperatures and are attracted to carbon dioxide, which we give off.

Bed bugs can fit into the smallest cracks and crevices inside our beds and other furniture. Unless the infestation is large, you might not notice they’re there. You’ll probably notice the bite marks, though.

About once per week, bed bugs feed by piercing a small hole in your skin. The leftover saliva triggers an allergic reaction in most people.

Bed bug bite marks appear around 1 to 3 days after being bitten. Most people develop small, red spots, which may be flat or raised. They’re often intensely itchy.

Some people develop more severe reactions than others. Because bed bug bites can vary in appearance so much, people often confuse them with hives.

How Do You Get Bed Bugs?

Any home can develop a bed bug problem. The myth that they only infest dirty, poor or messy homes is untrue.

You could pick up a bed bug in any public place, like a hotel, hospital or office. Bed bugs can also be inadvertently dropped off by visiting friends or family members. They can even enter your home through the walls, if you live in an apartment.

Once the bug enters your home, it will find its way to your bedroom. There, it will choose a secluded spot to hide in until it’s time to feed.

If the bug is a pregnant female, your home could soon be infested.

What Are Hives?

The proper name for hives is urticaria. It’s an uncomfortable, unsightly skin reaction which is normally triggered by an allergy.

Depending on what’s caused the hives, and how sensitive you are, they can vary drastically in appearance.

Some urticaria breakouts consist of hundreds of tiny pimple-like bumps. Others take the form of large, irregularly shaped wheals. They can be as big as a dinner plate.

Sometimes, you may only develop a small patch of hives in one area. In other cases, they may connect to form huge rashes.

Hives can be white, pink or red. They are usually raised, and extremely itchy. They can also cause a stinging or burning sensation.

Hives are caused by your skin reacting to a foreign substance. However, instead of bed bug saliva, hives can be triggered by any number of things. It all depends on what you’re allergic to.

What Causes Hives?

Hives are the physical result of your body going through an allergic reaction.

When your body detects a substance that it thinks is harmful, your immune system releases histamine. This causes fluid to accumulate under the skin, resulting in the raised areas.

It’s hard to figure out exactly what substance your body is reacting to. People can be allergic to:

  • Certain foods and ingredients
  • Medications
  • Animals
  • Trees and pollen
  • Cleaning products, such as laundry detergents
  • Skin products, such as lotions and soaps

In rare cases, hives can even develop as a reaction to sunlight, or pressure on the skin.

Hives don’t usually last long. However, according to the Indian Journal of Dermatology, urticaria can sometimes be chronic. Chronic urticaria can last for weeks, months or even years.

Bed Bugs vs. Hives Compared

Hives and bed bug bites, as you know by now, are two entirely separate problems.

As they’re both the result of an allergic reaction, they can be hard to tell apart. But it’s vital that you learn to distinguish them, as they have very different treatments.

If you’re struggling to tell whether you’ve got hives or bed bug bites, there are six questions that you should ask yourself. You should have a good idea of what you’re dealing with.

What Do the Welts Look Like?

Examine the welts themselves. Though bed bug bites and hives look similar, there are some differences.


Bed bug bites are usually around the size of an eraser on the end of a pencil. They may be slightly bigger if you are more sensitive. Bear in mind that two bite marks close together can sometimes look like one large bite.

Hives, on the other hand, can be very small or very large. Some kinds of hives can be as small as pimples, bunched together to form a big rash. Other hives are very large indeed. Wheals could be the size of a quarter, a beermat or even a dinner plate.


Bed bug bite marks are red. The skin immediately surrounding them should look normal, though it may be a bit paler than usual.

Hives can vary in color. Sometimes, they’re the same color as your skin (or even paler). Other kinds can be pale to dark red. In some case, they can even look purplish. The flat skin surrounding the hives is often inflamed and red looking, too.


Both hives and bed bug bite marks are usually raised. That means that they stand out, so you can feel them if you have your eyes closed. As they start to go away, they flatten out.

Bed bug bites are usually round, like flea bites and mosquito bites. The edges are quite even. Many bites may be clustered together, or form zig-zag lines.

On the other hand, hives can be all kinds of shapes. Some hives are round, but even then, they usually have wobbly or uneven edges.

Where Do the Welts Appear?

Bed bugs look for areas of the skin that are uncovered. If you wear pajamas, you’ll probably find bite marks on the parts of your body that aren’t covered in fabric.

The most likely places are the arms, legs, and neck. Of course, if you sleep naked, the bites could appear anywhere.

Hives can appear anywhere on the body. Sometimes, they occur in response to an allergen directly touching the skin (such as poison oak).

In this case, they’ll appear where the allergen touched you. However, there’s often no clear reason why hives have appeared in a particular place.

Are Family Members Affected?

If you’re being bitten by bed bugs, it means your home is infested. It’s doubtful that the problem only exists in your bedroom.

Ask your partner, family members or roommates whether they have any similar-looking welts on their skin. You’re most likely not the only person with these bite marks.

Hives aren’t contagious. You can’t pass them from one person to another. If you’ve got hives, other people in the house probably won’t have them.

That being said, it isn’t a guarantee. Allergies can run in families. If you and your family are allergic to the same thing, you could both be experiencing hives at once. However, it is unlikely.

And, of course, bear in mind that some people don’t react to bed bug bites at all. Don’t assume you don’t have bed bugs just because someone in your home hasn’t got any bite marks.

Do You Have a History of Allergies?

If you have any known allergies, consider whether you might have been exposed to any recently. If you suffer from hay fever, for example, the pollen count may be high in your area at the moment.

Have you accidentally used a soap, laundry detergent or cleaning product that you’ve had a reaction to in the past?

Remember that the allergenic substance doesn’t need to touch your skin for it to trigger hives. It could be in something that you’ve eaten or drank. Have you visited any restaurants lately, where there could have been cross-contamination issues?

Have You Encountered Any New Products or Foods?

Even if you don’t have a history of allergies, new ones can develop all the time. It’s possible for a person of any age to become allergic to something they’ve never reacted before.

So, figure out whether you’ve tried any new foods or used any new products lately. Are you trialing a new kind of shampoo? Has someone brought a new plant or some flowers into your home? Have you recently got a new pet, or has someone visited who has a pet at home?

Hives can also develop as a response to stress or extreme heat. Have you been particularly anxious or worked up about anything lately? Have you recently started exercising? All of these factors could cause a skin reaction.

Are There Any Signs of Bed Bugs in Your Home?

If you think your welts may be bed bug bites, there’s one way to be sure. Check your home for the tell-tale signs of a bed bug infestation.

The best place to start is the bedroom – particularly the mattress, headboard, and box spring. Signs of a bed bug infestation include:

  • Fecal spots. Look for flat, small dots, almost like ink spots from a pen. They’re almost black in color, and typically appear in clusters. Bed bug droppings won’t rub off easily.
  • Shed bed bug exoskeletons. Look for translucent, bug-shaped pieces of shell.
  • Blood stains on your bedsheets. These are caused by the bites bleeding when the bed bugs detach themselves.
  • Eggs and eggshells. These are 1mm long and whitish in color.
  • Live or dead bugs. Adult bed bugs are around 4mm long, oval-shaped and reddish brown. They look almost like apple seeds. Nymphs (juveniles) are smaller and paler.

Remember that bed bugs can fit into any gap which is wide enough for a credit card to slide into. They prefer tight, secluded spots, so pay attention to cracks and crevices.

After you’ve checked the bed, don’t forget to search the rest of the room. Bed bugs can live almost anywhere.

What is the Treatment for Hives and Bed Bugs?

By now, you should have an idea of whether your problem is more likely to be hives or bed bugs. However, to make sure, it’s a good idea to get a professional opinion.

Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. They should be able to tell whether the welts are an allergy or insect-related.

If you’ve got hives, your dermatologist will refer you to an allergy specialist. They’ll carry out testing to try and determine what you’re allergic to. In the meantime, you may be prescribed antihistamines.

If your dermatologist thinks that you’ve got bed bug bites, contact an exterminator to arrange an inspection.

Getting rid of bed bugs is, unfortunately, quite complicated. The best way is to seek professional heat treatment. This involves heating your entire home, and everything in it, to a temperature high enough to kill 100% of bed bugs and eggs.

You’ll have to leave your home while this is carried out. If this isn’t an option for you, there are many ways you can try and keep on top of the infestation.

Store-bought insecticides can help. You can also use a mattress encasement and bed bug interceptor traps. You should also launder your clothes and bedsheets at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Insect Bite | Coos Bay, OR

Is this your child’s symptom?

  • Bite from an insect (bug)
  • Bees, mosquitoes, fire ants, ticks and spiders are not covered. See those care guides.

If NOT, try one of these:

Symptoms of Insect Bites

  • Insect bites usually cause a small red bump.
  • Often, it looks like localized hives (one large one or several small ones).
  • Sometimes, a small water blister occurs in the center of the bump. This is common in younger children.
  • Itchy Insect Bites. Bites of mosquitoes, chiggers (harvest mites), fleas, and bedbugs usually cause itchy, red bumps.
  • Painful Insect Bites. Bites of horseflies, deer flies, and gnats usually cause a painful, red bump. Fire ants, harvester ants, blister beetles, and centipedes also cause a painful, red bump. Within a few hours, fire ant bites can change to blisters or pimples.

Cause of Insect Bite Reaction

  • The skin bumps are the body’s reaction to the insect’s saliva.
  • While the bug is sucking blood, some of its secretions get mixed in.

Anaphylaxis With Insect Bites: Very Rare

  • A severe life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis.
  • The main symptoms are difficulty breathing and swallowing starting within 2 hours of the sting. Onset usually is within 20 minutes.
  • Anaphylaxis can occur with bee, yellow jacket, wasp, or fire ant stings. Anaphylactic reactions are very rare after other insect bites. Reason: other insects don’t have venom.

Problems Caused by Insect Bites

  • Impetigo. A local bacterial infection. Gives sores, soft scabs and pus. Caused by scratching or picking at the bites. More common in itchy bites.
  • Cellulitis. The bacterial infection spreads into the skin. Gives redness spreading out from the bite. The red area is painful to the touch.
  • Lymphangitis. This is a bacterial infection that spreads up the lymph channels. Gives a red line that goes up the arm or leg. More serious because the infection can get into the bloodstream. (This is called sepsis.)

When to Call for Insect Bite

Call 911 Now

  • Past life-threatening allergic reaction to same insect bite (not just hives) and bitten less than 2 hours ago
  • Trouble breathing or wheezing
  • Hoarse voice, cough, or tightness in the throat or chest
  • Trouble swallowing, drooling or slurred speech
  • Hard to wake up
  • Acts or talks confused
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Hives or swelling all over the body
  • More than 20 fire ant stings in a child less than 1 year old
  • Fever and bite looks infected (spreading redness)
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Severe pain and not better 2 hours after taking pain medicine
  • New redness around the bite starts more than 24 hours after the bite
  • More than 48 hours since the bite and redness gets larger
  • Redness or red streak around the bite gets larger than 1 inch (2. 5 cm)
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Contact Doctor During Office Hours

  • Scab that looks infected (drains pus or gets bigger) not better with antibiotic ointment
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Normal insect bite
  • Questions about insect repellents (such as DEET)

Care Advice for Insect Bites

Treatment for Insect Bites

  1. What You Should Know About Insect Bites:
    • Most insect bites cause a red bump. Some are larger (like a hive). Some have a small water blister in the center. These are normal reactions to an insect bite.
    • A large hive at the bite does not mean your child has an allergy.
    • The redness does not mean the bite is infected.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Itchy Insect Bite Treatment:
    • Steroid Cream. To reduce the itching, use 1% hydrocortisone cream (such as Cortaid). No prescription is needed. Put it on 3 times a day until the itch is gone. If you don’t have, use a baking soda paste until you can get some.
    • If neither is available, use ice in a wet washcloth for 20 minutes.
    • Also, you can put firm, sharp, direct, steady pressure on the bite. Do this for 10 seconds to reduce the itch. A fingernail, pen cap, or other object can be used.
    • Allergy Medicine. If the bite is still itchy, try an allergy medicine (such as Benadryl). No prescription is needed. Sometimes it helps, especially in allergic children.
  3. Painful Insect Bite Treatment:
    • Soak a cotton ball in a baking soda solution. Rub the bite with it for 15 to 20 minutes. Do this once. This will usually reduce the pain.
    • You can also use an ice cube in a wet washcloth for 20 minutes.
    • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol). Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil). Use as needed.
    • For painful bites, allergy medicines don’t help.
  4. Antibiotic Ointment for Infected Bite:
    • If the insect bite has a scab on it and the scab looks infected, use an antibiotic ointment. An example is Polysporin. No prescription is needed. Use 3 times per day. (Note: Usually impetigo is caused by scratching with dirty fingers).
    • Cover the scab with a bandage (such as Band-Aid). This will help prevent scratching and spread.
    • Wash the sore and use the antibiotic ointment 3 times per day. Cover it with a clean bandage each time. Do this until healed.
    • Caution: For spreading infections (redness or red streaks), your child needs to be seen.
  5. What to Expect:
    • Most insect bites are itchy for several days.
    • Any pinkness or redness usually lasts 3 days.
    • The swelling may last 7 days.
    • Insect bites of the upper face can cause severe swelling around the eye. This is harmless.
    • The swelling is usually worse in the morning after lying down all night. It will improve after standing for a few hours.
  6. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Severe pain lasts more than 2 hours after pain medicine
    • Infected scab not better after 48 hours of antibiotic ointment
    • Bite looks infected (spreading redness gets bigger after 48 hours)
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

Prevention of Insect Bites

  1. Prevention Tips:
    • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a hat.
    • Avoid being outside when the bugs are most active. Many insects that cause itchy bites are most active at sunrise or sunset. Examples are chiggers, no-see-ums, and mosquitoes.
    • Insect repellents that contain DEET are helpful in preventing many insect bites. Read the label carefully.
  2. DEET Products: Use on the Skin.
    • DEET is a very effective bug repellent. It also repels ticks and other insects.
    • The AAP approves DEET use over 2 months of age. Use 30% DEET or less. Use 30% DEET if you need 6 hours of protection. Use 10% DEET if you only need protection for 2 hours. (AAP 2003).
    • Don’t put DEET on the hands if your child sucks on their thumb or fingers. (Reason: prevent swallowing DEET.)
    • Warn older children who apply their own DEET to use less. A total of 3 or 4 drops can protect the whole body.
    • Put it on exposed areas of skin. Do not use near the eyes or mouth. Do not use on skin that is covered by clothing. Don’t put DEET on sunburns or rashes. Reason: DEET can be easily absorbed in these areas.
    • Wash it off with soap and water when your child comes indoors.
    • Caution: DEET can damage clothing made of man-made fibers. It can also damage plastics (such as eye glasses) and leather. DEET can be used on cotton clothing.
  3. Permethrin Products: Use on Clothing.
    • Products that contain permethrin (such as Duranon) work well to repel insects and ticks.
    • Unlike DEET, these products are put on clothing instead of skin.
    • Put it on shirt cuffs, pant cuffs, shoes and hats.
    • You can also use it on other outdoor items (mosquito screens, sleeping bags).
    • Do not put permethrin on the skin. Reason: Sweat changes it so it does not work.
  4. Picaridin Products:
    • Picaridin is a repellent that is equal to 10% DEET.
    • It can safely be put on skin or clothing.

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the ‘Call Your Doctor’ symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Copyright 2000-2021. Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

Insect bites and stings | healthdirect

It’s important to be aware that bites or stings from insects can cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) in some people.

Learn more about first aid treatment for severe allergic reactions in the ‘anaphylaxis’ section below.

Insect stings

If you are stung, the insect will puncture the skin and leave behind saliva, faeces (poo) or venom.

It’s also quite common that the insect will leave behind its ‘sting’ with or without venom.

Common symptoms of a sting include:

  • an intense burning feeling
  • redness around the sting site
  • pain which generally eases after an hour or so
  • swelling around the sting
  • in cases of allergic reaction, swelling may be more severe and affect a larger part of the body, for example the whole leg or arm may become swollen
  • allergic reactions may cause further swelling, pain and in some cases blisters will form

Stingers infographic

Learn more about the most common stinging insects and how to prevent being stung.

The skin around the area you were stung is likely to be red and painful, and you may experience some swelling around the sting mark. Stings generally clear up within two days (48 hours) although the area may be tender for a few days after this.

Insect bites

An insect bite will leave a puncture wound in the skin. The type of insect that you are bitten by can determine what type of reaction you will have.

Insect bites will usually clear up in a day or two without any further treatment.

Common symptoms of a bite include:

  • skin irritation
  • inflammation or swelling
  • a bump or blister around the bite mark

Biters infographic

Learn more about the most common biting insects and how to prevent being bitten.

Check your symptoms with healthdirect’s Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

Bee stings, wasp stings and ant stings

Bee and wasp stings and Australian Jack Jumper ant bites are the most common triggers of anaphylaxis caused by insect stings.

Wasps are generally more aggressive than bees and are attracted to food and sugary drinks. Check open food and drink containers when you are outdoors before you eat or drink from them.

Take these steps if you are stung by a bee:

  • do not use tweezers to remove the sting; bees leave behind a sac of venom, and if you try to use tweezers you will release more venom from the sac
  • if the stinger is still in the skin, gently try to remove it by scraping it carefully from the side with the edge of a firm object, such as a finger nail or credit card – flicking the sting out as soon as possible to reduce the amount of venom injected
  • when you have removed the sting, wash the affected area with soap and water and dry the area gently

Wasps and bull ants rarely leave their sting in the skin. Use a cold pack and soothing cream to relieve a minor reaction, and take a oral antihistamines to treat the itch.

If the pain is persistent and continues, see your doctor. You may need cortisone tablets to settle the swelling.


Allergic reactions to ticks range from mild (with large local swelling and inflammation at the site of a tick bite) to severe (anaphylaxis).

To prevent allergic reactions to ticks do NOT forcibly remove the tick. Disturbing the tick may cause the tick to inject more allergen-containing saliva. The options are to:

  • leave the tick in place and seek medical assistance; or
  • freeze tick (using a product that rapidly freezes and kills the tick) and allow to drop off

For more information on tick allergy, visit the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy website.

Ticks can attach to your skin when you’re out and about in the bush.

To protect yourself from ticks, wear light coloured clothing, tuck your trousers into your socks and spray an insect repellent containing diethyltoluamide (DEET) or picaridin onto your skin, shoes and socks.

After returning from a tick area, thoroughly check the whole body of all members of the party (especially children) for ticks. Pay particular attention to the back of the head and neck, groin, armpits and back of the knees. You can have more than one tick.

If you are not allergic to ticks, kill it first with an ether-containing spray such as Wart-Off Freeze® or Elastoplast Cold Spray® and then remove it as soon as possible.

If you are allergic to ticks, do NOT forcibly remove the tick. Kill it first with an ether-containing spray such as those mentioned above and then have it removed by a doctor or go to the Emergency Department.


  • grasp the tick by the body,
  • apply methylated spirits or fingernail polish, or
  • use a lighted match, or cigarette

Once the tick is out, apply antiseptic cream to the bite site. Tick bites can remain slightly itchy for several weeks.

If the tick isn’t fully removed, you should look out for signs of infection – redness, pain around the wound site, pus or clear liquid coming from the wound, and a high temperature over 38°C.

See your doctor if you develop a reaction around the bite site, or if you feel generally unwell or experience muscle weakness or paralysis after a tick bite.

Learn more about tick bites.

Mosquito bites

Mosquitoes cause itchy bites but severe allergic reactions are rare.

Some types of mosquitoes can spread serious diseases.

See your doctor if you develop a rash, flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headaches, joint and muscle pains (swelling or stiffness), fatigue, depression and generally feel unwell.

Most mosquito bites can be managed by washing the area with soap and water and applying an antiseptic. Cold packs may help with local pain and swelling.

To lessen your chance of being bitten by mosquitoes (and midges), cover up as much skin as possible and stay inside in the early morning or at dusk. Use an insect repellent when you are out and about and there are mosquitoes around.

Information on avoiding mosquito bites can be found on the Queensland Health website.

Scorpion and centipede stings

Take these steps if stung by a scorpion or a centipede:

  • apply an ice pack to the sting or bite site
  • clean the wound with antiseptic or wash with soap and water to help prevent secondary infection
  • use a painkiller

Caterpillar stings to the skin

Take these steps if stung by a caterpillar:

  • remove visible caterpillar hairs with tweezers
  • apply and remove adhesive tape to the area to remove the finer caterpillar hairs
  • do not scratch or rub the area, this may cause the hairs to penetrate deeper into the skin


Itching is a common irritation of the skin that makes a person want to scratch the itchy area. It can occur anywhere on the body, and can be very frustrating and uncomfortable. Itching may occur on a small part of the body, for example around the area of an insect bite, or it can affect the whole body, such as with an allergic reaction.

Sometimes spots or rashes may be present around the area that is itchy, or they may cause the itchiness itself.

It is quite common to find that after you’ve scratched an itch, that the itch becomes more persistent (itchier) and you get into a cycle of itching and scratching. This can be painful and can sometimes lead to an infection if the skin is broken. If itching persists for more than 48 hours, see your doctor.

To relieve itching, take the following steps:

  • try not to scratch the area – keep your nails short to prevent breaking the skin if you do scratch
  • a cool bath or shower may help to soothe the itching – gently pat yourself dry with a clean towel, but do not rub or use the towel to scratch yourself
  • avoid perfumed skin care products
  • try to wear loose cotton clothing, which can help prevent you overheating and making the itch worse – avoid fabrics which irritate your skin, like wool or scratchy fabrics
  • an ice pack may relieve the itching but should not be placed directly against the skin – you can make an ice pack by using a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a clean cloth
  • there are medicines available to ease the symptoms of itching – speak to a pharmacist for further advice and to make sure any medicines you take are suitable for you
  • if you are in pain, get advice on medicines from a pharmacist or doctor


Occasionally some people have a severe allergic reaction to being bitten or stung by an insect.

In cases of severe allergic reaction, the whole body can react within minutes to the bite or sting which can lead to anaphylactis. Anaphylaxis is very serious and can be fatal.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • difficult or noisy breathing
  • difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
  • a swollen tongue
  • persistent dizziness or collapse
  • swelling or tightness in the throat
  • pale and floppy (young children)
  • wheeze or persistent cough
  • abdominal pain or vomiting

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance. If the person has a ‘personal action plan’ to manage a known severe allergy, they may need assistance to follow their plan. This may include administering adrenaline to the person via an adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjector (such as EpiPen) if one is available.

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy recommends that for a severe allergic reaction, adrenaline is the initial treatment. For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.

The St John Ambulance Australia first aid fact sheet for bites and stings can be found on their website. For more information on anaphylaxis, including setting up a personal action plan, go to www.allergy.org.au.

People with diagnosed allergies should avoid all triggers and confirmed allergens and have a readily accessible anaphylaxis action plan and medical alert device. It’s wise to ensure your family, friends and employer or work colleagues know how to follow your anaphylaxis action plan too in case you need help.

Should I do a first aid course?

Knowing what to do in an emergency can save a life, so it’s a very good idea to do a first aid course.

You can book a first aid course through St John Ambulance Australia’s website or call them at 1300 360 455. You will need to pay a fee to do a course.

How to prevent bites and stings

To help prevent bites and stings, it’s a good idea to wear protective clothing such as closed shoes, socks, long pants and a long sleeved shirt when walking through the bush.

Wear protective gloves and clothing when gardening. Bites and stings can happen when you have bare feet so wear shoes when you are outside, even around your home.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your insect bite or sting, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Hives: Pictures, symptoms, treatment and causes

Hives are itchy pink welts that could appear anywhere on the skin. Hives vary in size, and they sometimes merge together to cover large patches of your skin. Individual hives usually go away in less than 24 hours, but new ones can appear. So, you might battle a case of hives for up to six weeks, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

“They tend to come on suddenly and they are incredibly itchy. People are miserable with them. They might only last a few hours then they’re gone. Or they might come back later in a different spot,” said Dr. Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology.

“For most people who have hives, the episode will end, and their skin will be better within a few days. If that’s not the case, you should see your dermatologist,” she said.

Hives are common — and anyone can get them. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD), 20 to 30 percent of people will get hives at least once in their lives.

Symptoms of hives

What do hives look like? Hive symptoms include slightly swollen, raised pink or red areas on the skin. You may see hives alone or in a group, or connected together to cover a lot of your skin. They don’t blister.


“Hives are something that by definition are going to be transient. The lesions come and go within 24 hours. If you have something hanging around for longer than that, it’s not a hive,” said Dr. Jenny Murase, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology.

It’s rare, but possible, that your hives could cause swelling of your lips or tongue or itching in your mouth or throat. If you notice those symptoms, go to the emergency room, Piliang said. You’ll need medical care to make sure your airway doesn’t close from the swelling.

Causes of hives

It’s likely you may never know what triggers your hives. The AOCD reports that in 95 percent of people with chronic hives, there’s no identified cause.

It’s worth seeing a dermatologist for evaluation, though, because you could be in that 5 percent of people who can determine their causes for hives.

Your hives could be caused by:

  • Insect stings or bites
  • An underlying disease or condition
  • An allergic reaction
  • An overactive immune system
  • Medication
  • Foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish
  • Stress
  • Sunlight
  • Pollen
  • Cold
  • Pressure
  • Vibration
  • Exercise
  • Scratching or rubbing the skin
  • Getting hot and sweaty

Sometimes you’ll notice hives right after you’re exposed to a trigger. But your reaction could also start up to two hours later, according to the AAD.

If you don’t get good results with antihistamines your doctor might recommend steroids or other medications. chokja / Getty Images stock

Diagnosing hives

To diagnose hives, your dermatologist will examine your skin and ask questions about your symptoms and possible causes. If you develop repeated cases of hives you may want to keep a symptom diary to share with your doctor. Tracking your symptoms and possible triggers could help identify the cause of your hives.

Your dermatologist may also recommend allergy tests, blood work or a skin biopsy, according to the AAD.

Treatment for hives

Antihistamines are the go-to treatment for hives, according to the AOCD. But there are some key factors to consider.

The AOCD says it’s important to:

  • Find an antihistamine that’s strong enough
  • Use the right dosage
  • Continue the antihistamine for long enough to ward off future outbreaks

“A mistake people will make is they take antihistamines for a few days and then they go off them, and it starts up again,” Murase said. “What you want to do is shut the cycle down — take enough antihistamine so it quiets.”

If you don’t get good results with antihistamines your doctor might recommend steroids or other medications.

You can alleviate the itching from hives with an ice pack. “Cold and itch run on the same nerve pathways — you can’t feel both at the same time,” Piliang said. “So if the hives are super itchy, putting an ice pack on them can help.”

Stephanie Thurrott is a writer who covers mental health, personal growth, wellness, family, food and personal finance, and dabbles in just about any other topic that grabs her attention. When she’s not writing, look for her out walking her dog or riding her bike in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. 

a Guide to Mosquito Bite Allergies

  • Skeeter syndrome is an allergic reaction to mosquito bites, which can cause red, swollen lesions. 
  • Skeeter syndrome is more common in young children or immunocompromised individuals. 
  • To treat a mosquito bite allergy, take an antihistamine and apply a prescription steroid.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

LoadingSomething is loading.

Warmer weather not only brings scenic hikes and refreshing swims but also pesky swarms of mosquitoes. For individuals with skeeter syndrome, these bites can trigger allergic reactions that range from mild to severe. 

If you’re looking to spend time outdoors without painful itching, here are some tips to protect yourself from mosquito bites — and when to seek medical attention.

What is skeeter syndrome?

Skeeter syndrome is a moderate to severe local reaction that manifests around the bite area and is characterized by swelling, red lesions, and a low-grade fever. It occurs in response to certain proteins in a mosquito’s saliva, which most people build an immune response to. 

Therefore, skeeter syndrome is most prevalent among individuals with limited exposure to local mosquito species, like visitors and young children. Immunocompromised individuals, like those with HIV or chronic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) disorders, may also experience a reaction if they’re more vulnerable to irritants in mosquito saliva. 

Because they have similar symptoms, skeeter syndrome is often misdiagnosed as a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis, says Hobart Lee, MD, a family medicine specialist at Loma Linda University who has researched mosquito-borne diseases.

Though skeeter syndrome is uncommon, the sheer number of annual cases is difficult to determine, Lee says. While it isn’t life-threatening, skeeter syndrome can have a profound impact on one’s preference to go outdoors and cause immense discomfort.

Who is at a greater risk of mosquito bites? 

Mosquitoes may flock to certain people due to natural factors like body odor, but there isn’t conclusive evidence as to which individuals are most likely to get bitten. 

While studies have suggested that specific blood types and alcohol consumption could invite more bites, these connections are still “up in the air,” says Rebecca Heinig, a research entomologist at Florida’s Collier Mosquito Control District. 

We do know that mosquitoes seek out carbon dioxide, and pregnant women exhale above-average amounts by their third trimester, possibly explaining why they’re more prone to being bit.  

How to prevent mosquito bites

There are some factors you can control, like location and time of day, that may lower your risk of being bit, says Lee.

Though the severity of a reaction may depend on one’s age or immune system, geography significantly influences the likelihood of mosquito bites.

“Those who live close to lakes or places where it’s not very clean with lots of standing water are probably at higher risk of getting insect or mosquito bites,” Lee said. “I don’t think we think more of a certain gender or age being more affected.”

Here are five tips for how to avoid mosquito bites altogether: 

1. Stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active. It’s helpful to keep inside as the sun rises and sets. Female mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk because it’s when they tend to seek meals, Heinig says. 

2. Dress smart. Opt for long sleeves and pants or repellent-treated clothing. It’s best to avoid dark-colored clothing because it might make you sweat. This can cause you to become a potential magnet for mosquitoes. Therefore, opt for lighter pieces that will prevent overheating, says Heinig. Keep in mind that certain species are attracted to clothing that contrasts with local environments.

3. Use mosquito repellent. Bug spray is another useful defense against mosquito bites. Depending on the type of repellent, it works by either masking your scent or producing an odor that wards off mosquitoes. DEET-based products are the “gold standard,” Heinig says.


The best bug sprays and repellents you can buy

Generally, you should look for products that contain 10% to 35% DEET, but there isn’t much benefit above 50%. When visiting a highly infested area, 35% to 50% can help prevent bites. DEET is designed to last for hours, so reapplication isn’t necessary unless you sweat heavily, shower, or swim.

4. Fire may help. Smoke may drive mosquitoes away, though it isn’t a fool-proof solution.

5. Keep your backyard in mind. You can also design your backyard to fend off mosquitoes, Heinig says. Make sure that the area is free of any standing water so that the insects can’t reproduce. Also introduce a diffuser with citronella oil, a plant-derived substance known for its insect-repelling abilities; this essential oil can help create a “repellent zone,” a few feet in diameter, depending on environmental conditions like wind speed. It’s also important to install mesh screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering your home, Lee says. 

Though it’s difficult to avert mosquitoes completely, it’s best to focus on preventing bites so that treatment isn’t always necessary. It’s especially crucial because mosquitoes can spread diseases like malaria or carry the Zika virus.

How to know if you’ve been bit by a mosquito 

Common symptoms of a mosquito bite include:

  • Swollen white and red bumps that itch and burn
  • After a day, bumps may harden, multiply and grow darker
  • Bumps may remain for several days and usually resolve within 10

If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms seek medical attention. They could be a sign of a severe allergic reaction or secondary skin infection. 

  • Major swelling and redness
  • Acute pain
  • Fever
  • Body aches, headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Hives
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal
  • Skin necrosis, or tissue death

How to treat mosquito bites

If you’ve been bitten by a mosquito, there are many medical treatments and home remedies you can use to reduce the itching and swelling. Here are four tips:

1. Use a cold compress. For mild symptoms, clean the area and use a cold compress.

2. Over-the-counter medication can help. If you’re experiencing pain, try taking a pain-killer like ibuprofen. Allergic reactions can be treated with over-the-counter antihistamines in either oral or topical form, Lee says. 

3. Prescription steroids. Lee recommends topical steroids to relieve itching only in extreme cases, like skeeter syndrome. For rarer whole-body allergic reactions, he says, doctors may prescribe oral steroids.

4. Patience. It can take 1-2 weeks for large local reactions to heal completely, Lee says.

Insider’s takeaway 

Skeeter syndrome is a rare allergic reaction to the saliva of mosquitoes. Therefore, when someone with the condition is bitten by a mosquito, they develop large, red lesions and a low-grade fever. 

Skeeter syndrome is rarely life-threatening, but it can be uncomfortable. Therefore, to prevent mosquito bites, wear bug spray and stay indoors whenever possible.  

90,000 why mosquito and ant bites are dangerous

Insects often spoil our summer outdoor recreation. Their bites are not only unpleasant, but can be quite dangerous. According to the doctor Alexander Myasnikov on the air of the TV channel “Russia 1”, mosquitoes carry many diseases, and seemingly harmless caterpillars of butterflies can cause severe allergies, as well as bites of red ants.

Among the diseases that can be contracted through a mosquito bite are malaria, which kills a million people a year, yellow fever, Dengue fever and others.In addition, mosquitoes can carry parasites, resulting in filariasis.

“Filariasis clogs certain lymphatic vessels and literally” swells “the person, – the doctor explained. – This disease is very common.”

According to him, mosquitoes do not bite everyone.

“The fact is that there are people with a certain blood group, with certain odors, with a certain immunity, who are attacked by mosquitoes much more often,” Myasnikov noted.- And there are 20 percent of such people. That is, out of 10 people, 8 will suffer moderately, and two will suffer greatly. But these two are responsible for 80 percent of the spread of diseases that are transmitted through mosquito bites. “

According to the doctor, mosquitoes are attracted to the blood of sick people, since their blood biochemical composition is disturbed.

Red ants can be very dangerous.

“They have a special poison. They have several types of components of the poison, which sometimes cause reactions up to paralysis.Again, hemolytic anemia, when blood cells are destroyed, and severe renal failure, “Myasnikov said.

Caterpillars of butterflies are not so harmless: touching them, you can get skin irritation due to their hairs, up to a burn.

“This is called lepidopterism. If you touch caterpillars or butterflies, you have either an allergic reaction or a petechial rash, because platelets begin to break down,” explained Myasnikov. pressure drop “.

Earlier, experts warned about the danger of tick-borne encephalitis: ticks are found even in Moscow parks. Previously, it was believed that it was possible to get infected in the Moscow region only in two districts – Dmitrovsky and Taldomsky. But the latest discoveries of Russian scientists are fundamentally changing these ideas. The first center of encephalitis in the history of the capital was found in the Krylatskoye park.

90,000 What to do if you get bitten

Specialists of the Center for Medical Prevention of the Ministry of Health of the Krasnodar Territory told what to do if someone bit or stung you.

Summer is the time for summer cottages, travels and trips to the sea. But the owners of these places are not always hospitable enough – some of them scratch, burn, bite.


Photo: ntv.md

These are the most common aggressors. They love shady corners, warm evenings. The bite of this insect is not perceptible, but it is very unpleasant with the subsequent itching: it is difficult to restrain yourself from scratching the wound, as a result, germs can get into it, itching causes insomnia, combed bites the next morning look just awful.

Methods of treatment: Grease the bite site with soda or vinegar solution, ammonia, cologne, brilliant green, propolis.

Means of control: mosquito nets, long loose clothing made of dense fabrics, fumigators, anti-mosquito ointments and sprays. Experienced summer residents scare away the “vampires” near Moscow with the help of an ordinary … Corvalol.

Be attentive to “incomprehensible” bites that do not go away within a day or in connection with which you feel worsening of health (fever, swelling, numbness, pain, manifestation of allergies).Get medical help!

Gadflies, horseflies

Photo: thedb.ru

In open sunny spaces, especially near water bodies, large “flies” hunt down their victims. They are especially attracted to the smell of a hot body and sweat. Therefore, the best protection will be clean, dry skin and antiperspirant. At the dacha, horseflies will be scared away by thickets of golden balls, scented tobacco or tansy.

The bites of these insects are quite sensitive; in their place, a white blister with redness around the edges quickly swells.A sucked insect can remain on the skin for about 5 minutes. The main danger lies not in the bite itself, but in the infection, which are often carried by these bloodsuckers, in addition, dirt can get into the already existing puncture.

Methods of treatment: Rinse the wound with warm water, soda solution, wipe with alcohol, drop a drop of ammonia, tea tree oil, in case of edema, apply ice. An antihistamine ointment can help relieve itching.


Photo: pikabu.ru

They often attack picnic lovers. The bite itself is like a needle prick – the ant shoots out a drop of burning acid, in case of mass (the ant is a collective insect), the bites can lead to trouble – redness, swelling. Therefore, the most reasonable thing is to quickly check the clothes, shake out the “lost” insects, and move to another place.

Methods of treatment: warm shower, soda baths, if bubbles form on the bite sites, do not open them.It is better to take cologne and cotton swabs with you for a walk.

Wasps, bees, bumblebees, hornets

Photo: web-zoopark.ru

These are more serious opponents – their bites are very painful, cause severe redness, swelling, and in allergy sufferers they can cause dangerous anaphylactic shock.

Often they arrange their nests in garden plots, under roofs and in attics, which threatens to be attacked by a whole swarm. Individuals can wait in the foliage of a fruit tree, next to a flower bed, and even in a presented bouquet.If you are making jam or baking a pie with the windows open, get ready for uninvited guests from all over the area. A child with ice cream, juice or soda, a lady in a cloud of fruity and spicy perfume is also attractive to these insects, which are unusually sensitive to sweet smells.

Methods of treatment: first of all, carefully remove the sting (if it remains in the wound) with tweezers, then wipe the bite with alcohol, apply a lotion with a weak solution of potassium permanganate, apply cold, you can take an antihistamine especially sensitive – Zirtek, Claritin, Histacin …

To relieve pain, wipe the bite with novocaine. Watch out for signs of anaphylactic shock – a sharp drop in blood pressure, shortness of breath, an obsessive dry cough, chills, heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, pain in the joints and lower back, and sometimes loss of consciousness. If at least one of them appears, it is better to seek medical help. In normal cases, the effects of the bite disappear in 2-3 days.

Methods of struggle: Get rid of nests in the resting area using special chemical compounds, empty nests should be burned, earthen nests should be thoroughly buried.Ask your allergist if your family members are allergic to bites.

Jellyfish, poisonous fish

Photo: korostelev.livejournal.com

The jellyfish burn is felt immediately and strongly – the skin really “burns”. Some jellyfish carry nerve poison in their stinging organs, which is enough to stop breathing, not to mention various forms of burns and allergies. Thin tentacles, not visible in the water column, can be 10 m long, so it is very dangerous to swim “in the tail” of a jellyfish.

Methods of treatment: Quickly and carefully remove the remains of the jellyfish body from the skin, remove the poisonous thorn or its fragment, treat the affected area with alcohol, ammonia or soda solution to neutralize the poison, attach an ice pack. The wound should be washed with a solution of potassium permanganate and a sterile bandage should be applied. If the animal is poisonous, in the first 3-5 minutes it will be effective to apply a tourniquet to the limb above the bite site. A bandage with synthomycin emulsion can be applied to a jellyfish burn.

Means of struggle: swim only in specially designated places, wear goggles or a mask, rubber slippers, if jellyfish or sea animals unfamiliar to you appear, immediately get out of the water. Dive only with an experienced instructor, do not neglect special equipment and suit.

Be careful not to touch rocks, rocks, seaweed or coral.Particularly suspicious are fish of bright colors (primarily reef), devoid of lateral fins, rounded scales, tortoise-shaped head, beak-shaped jaws.


Photo: pikabu.ru

Their bite is unlikely to go unnoticed. Pain and swelling of nearby tissues very soon add to the pain from two long teeth that have sunk into the skin (after a few hours, the entire limb may be swollen), an increase in skin temperature in the area of ​​the bite, fever, discoloration of the skin, the appearance of purple spots on it, bruising, blisters …Feelings of numbness or tingling may occur in the facial muscles and in the area of ​​the bite, skeletal muscle twitching, seizures (especially in children), weakness, fainting, dizziness, sweat, weak to severe breathing problems, headache, blurred vision, thirst, upset speech, sometimes paralysis is observed, in severe cases a coma develops.

The bite of some venomous snakes is deadly. Most venomous snake bites occur on the limbs (arms and legs, below the elbow and knee).Bites to the head and torso (usually of a sleeping person) are the most dangerous.

Methods of treatment: qualified medical assistance and as soon as possible. Before her: rinse the wound with ice water, inject serum, if you know how to do this and no more than 30 minutes have passed since the meeting with the snake, apply a tourniquet above the bite site (no more than 1.5-2 hours).

Ways to fight : The wisest thing is not to rest in places where snakes are found.Because only specialists and, possibly, local residents know how to handle them correctly. The fees for a touch of exotic are sometimes prohibitively high. Be careful and attentive – snakes will attack if disturbed.

08/26/2019 What to do with insect bites

Summer is a great time for outdoor recreation. But a pleasant pastime can be overshadowed by the bites of various insects. Anaphylactic shock and Quincke’s edema can develop as a result of stings from bees, wasps, bumblebee hornets and tarantulas.

So what kind of first aid should be provided to the victim? Regardless of what kind of insect bite you received, it is recommended to attach a cotton swab moistened with calendula tincture to the wound, which will relieve inflammation. In addition, if you are going to nature, then take with you a gel or ointment with an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and wound healing effect. For example, fenistil-gel, cicaderm homeopathic ointment. If after a bite you have shortness of breath, headache, nausea and vomiting, then you need to urgently seek medical help!

What to do if bitten by a bee, wasp, hornet, ant.

With the bite of these insects, a poison related to strong allergens enters the human body. The skin immediately turns red, pain and swelling appear. Immediately after the bite, you must carefully pull out the sting if it remains in the wound. Then, for the purpose of disinfection, apply a cotton swab moistened with calendula tincture, hydrogen peroxide or an alcohol-containing liquid. To relieve swelling, apply ice to the bite site. You can use a piece of raw, halved potato, tomato. It is best to take an antihistamine to prevent an allergic reaction.

If bitten by a spider

Wash the bite site with soap and water. If a spider has bitten on an arm or leg, apply a tight bandage above the bite to prevent or slow the spread of the venom throughout the body. Apply a cold compress to the bite site. Drinking plenty of fluids is recommended to remove the poison in the urine. It is necessary to urgently seek medical help if a child has been bitten by a spider or the victim’s condition deteriorates sharply. In some cases, it is necessary to administer an antidote.

What to do in case of bites of fleas, lice, scabies mites

The lesions received from bites of fleas, lice and scabies mites are similar, so their diagnosis is difficult. The bites look like red dots surrounded by blemishes and swelling. Severe itching appears. Bite sites should be thoroughly washed with soap and water. With significant discomfort, topical application of steroids in the form of ointments or aerosols is indicated.

First aid for tick bite

Ticks are blood-sucking insects, they are carriers of many infections, among which the most dangerous are hemorrhagic fevers, encephalitis and borreliosis.Severe infectious diseases transmitted by ticks appear some time after the bite, the time can vary significantly – from several days to several weeks. The first thing to do with an insect bite is to remove the tick. Try not to crush it, as this increases the risk of infection. To remove a tick, you can use medical tweezers, a loop made yourself from thread. Try to grab the insect closer to the head, remove it slowly, pull it perpendicular to the skin, while making swinging or slightly rotating movements.The removed tick must be placed in a small glass container with water and tightly closed with a lid. After the insect has been completely removed, the wound is washed with soap and water, then treated with an antiseptic. If the proboscis of the tick remains in the skin, it should not be pulled out, after a while – usually it takes several days – it will come out on its own. At the first sign of an allergic reaction, an antihistamine must be given to the victim as a first aid measure.

The extracted insect must be taken to the laboratory for analysis and consult an infectious disease doctor at the place of residence.

First aid for a poisonous snake bite

It is necessary to lay the bitten person in a horizontal position. If the snake is fixed on the skin at the site of the bite, then it must be removed and destroyed. But do not throw it away, as the reptile may be needed for examination by a specialist. The affected part should be freed from clothing and jewelry, as they can put pressure on the bite site and provoke increased edema. If there is no burning sensation, swelling and pain at the site of the bite, then most likely the snake is not poisonous.But urgently contact a specialist to find out if the snake was poisonous. In case of poisoning with snake venom, it is advisable to introduce an antidote on the first day after the bite.

90,000 What to do with an insect bite

I have a paradise for biting insects at my dacha. Clouds of mosquitoes and midges live in the nearest swamp, beekeepers have settled not far from the dacha, and a hornet’s nest is under the roof. So I live in constant fear that someone will bite me, my husband or child.

Explain, please, how insect bites threaten and how to act if bitten? What should be in the first aid kit for this case? How to understand that first aid is not enough and you need to call a doctor?

As a rule, the bites of flying insects that live in central Russia are unpleasant, but not too dangerous for health.At the same time, sometimes situations arise when you need to act immediately, otherwise a person may develop a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis.

All biting insects can be divided into two large groups. These are dipterans, that is, mosquitoes, midges and horseflies, and hymenoptera: wasps, hornets, bumblebees and bees. The methods of protection against attack and the nuances of first aid depend on which group the insect belongs to.

Why mosquitoes, midges and horseflies are dangerous

Female midges, some species of mosquitoes and horseflies need protein for reproduction, which is rich in human blood.Without her, they will not be able to lay eggs. Males generally do not bite.

Some species of mosquitoes and midges can infect humans with parasitic, bacterial or viral infections.

Fortunately, in the central part of Russia, such insects are rare, and most of the species in the middle zone do not tolerate the disease. Moreover, in the southern regions and Siberia, where insect vectors live, cases of infection with diseases are also relatively rare.

What mosquitoes, midges and horseflies need from people – an international guide for dermatologists Dermnet

Ecology of blood-sucking mosquitoes and midges in central Russia – the journal “Ecology and Biology of Parasites” PDF, 265 KB

At the same time, when we are bitten by mosquitoes, midges or horseflies, saliva gets into the wound.It contains proteins that prevent blood from clotting. These proteins are foreign to our body, so the immune system seeks to destroy them. As a result, an immune response develops. It is usually weak, but sometimes it is quite strong and dangerous. In order to see a doctor in time, it is important to learn how to recognize it.


How to beat burnout

A course for those who work hard and get tired. The price is open – you set it yourself

Start learning

How to treat bites of mosquitoes, midges and horseflies

To help a person, you need to assess the reaction to the bite.There are three types of immune response.

Normal local reaction. Approximately 20 minutes after the bite, there is a slight swelling and slight itching. If you do not comb the bite site, the itching goes away after a day, and the swelling turns into a small red speck, which disappears after a few more days.

Fresh mosquito bite. Source: dimid_86 / Shutterstock Mosquito bite 24 hours later. Source: Stephane Bidouze / Shutterstock

With a normal reaction, the person does not need medical attention.But you don’t have to endure the itching. If it doesn’t itch too much, just apply a cold compress to your skin, such as a damp cloth or an ice pack wrapped in a towel.

If this does not help, the site of the bite can be washed with running water and soap and lubricated with calamine lotion or zinc oxide.

What to do with an insect bite – a guide for doctors Uptodate

The main thing is to remember that zinc oxide is a crystalline powder that settles to the bottom of the bottle during storage.Therefore, before you lubricate the bite site, shake the bottle.

Lotion with calamine costs 360 R. Source: “Eapteka” Lotion with zinc oxide “Tsindol” is cheaper – 75 R, but relieves itching almost as well. Source: “Eapteka”

Skeeter’s syndrome can occur in people of all ages, but is more common in children 2-3 years old. Over time, the immune system adapts to mosquito bites, and children begin to respond to them just like adults.

What Skeeter Syndrome Looks Like

A large local reaction is not dangerous to health and life, but the skin at the site of the bite usually itches a lot.This condition goes away on its own without treatment, and the discomfort can be relieved with calamine or zinc oxide lotion.

If that doesn’t work, you can use an over-the-counter ointment or glucocorticoid cream. They need to be applied 1-2 times a day in a thin layer. As a rule, the discomfort disappears in 1-3 days.

Both ointment and glucocorticoid cream work the same way, but the ointment can leave marks on clothing. Source: Eapteka The price depends on the volume of the bottle and the policy of the manufacturing company – on average, about 450 R.Source: Eapteka

If, despite the ointment, the bite is still itchy, adults and children over two years of age can take an over-the-counter antihistamine.

Syrup with loratadine is suitable for children from two years old and for adults. If the child weighs less than 30 kg, you need one teaspoon of syrup a day – this is about 5 ml. If a child weighs more, he needs the same amount of syrup as an adult – two teaspoons, or 10 ml.

Children 6 years and older and adults can take one OTC pill with levocetirizine per day.

If swelling and pain get worse, or if swelling, swelling, or pain persists for more than 3 days, see your doctor.

If mosquitoes have bitten a baby under two years old, you need to continue to smear the bite with calamine or zinc oxide lotion: this is safer.

Systemic allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, after being bitten by mosquitoes, midges and horseflies is very rare. But if this still happens, a few minutes or hours after the bite, a person develops a red itchy rash all over the body or edema occurs, and not at the site of the bite, but, for example, on the lip.Eyes turn red, tears flow, nose clogs up. The voice becomes hoarse, shortness of breath occurs. Some people feel nauseous, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

Anaphylaxis is life threatening, so if at least some of these symptoms appear, you should immediately call an ambulance. Moreover, the person must be hospitalized, even if the symptoms have already passed: after a few hours, anaphylaxis returns in about 20% of people.

It will not be possible to help a person on their own, because only adrenaline injections help stop anaphylaxis. Giving over-the-counter allergy pills for systemic reactions is not helpful.

What a systemic allergic reaction looks like Both in children and adults with anaphylaxis, the eyes turn red, a rash appears. Swelling does not occur at the site of the bite, but, for example, on the lip. Source: Fevziie / Shutterstock

How to protect yourself from mosquito bites, midges and horseflies

There are few reliable ways to protect yourself, but they are:

  1. Wear long sleeves but lightweight natural fabrics.
  2. Use repellents. There are a lot of them, but the most studied and reliable are drugs with permethrin or DEET. When sprayed on clothing and not on your skin, these repellents will not harm children over two months of age, adults or pregnant women. But you need to make sure that repellents do not get on the skin, otherwise they can cause irritation.

How to protect yourself from insect bites – Uptodate

In a country house or tent, about half an hour before bedtime, it makes sense to use a fumigator or a combustible spiral.During this time, all insects should die. If you sleep with a screen on your windows or with a closed window, the protection should be sufficient for the entire night.

Why wasps, hornets, bumblebees and bees are dangerous

However, the venom of stinging insects such as wasps or bees is more likely to provoke strong immune responses than the saliva of mosquitoes, midges and horseflies. A major local reaction develops in about 10%, and anaphylaxis occurs in about 3% of bitten people.

How to treat stings of wasps, hornets, bumblebees and bees

Immune reactions to stinging insect bites develop faster, but in general resemble the conditions that occur with the bite of mosquitoes and midges.First aid is very similar, but there are nuances.

Normal local reaction occurs a few minutes after the bite: the skin turns red and a painful swelling 1-5 cm in diameter appears on it. Pain and swelling persist from several hours to a week.

A normal reaction to a stinging insect bite is a slight swelling. Source: Uptodate

Before giving first aid, inspect the bite site. Hornets, wasps and bumblebees do not lose their sting when bitten.But if a person is bitten by a bee, it remains in the skin.

To pull out the sting, it is enough to swipe over the bite several times with a napkin, a blunt part of a knife or a bank card – until it comes out. Do not pull out the sting with tweezers or fingers. So you can squeeze the remains of the poison into the wound, and it will become more painful.

When the sting comes out, wash the wound with clean running water and soap and apply a cold compress to the bite. You don’t need to do anything else.

Large local reaction begins to develop immediately, reaches a peak after two days, and then gradually disappears over 5-10 days.In this case, severe redness occurs, and the skin swells – the swelling reaches about 10 cm in diameter.

The large local reaction to the stinging insect bite resembles Skeeter’s syndrome, only larger and brighter. Source: Sophisticated EDGE

In case of a large local reaction, proceed in the same way as for a normal one: remove the sting, wash the wound with soap and apply a cold compress. It is better to raise the bitten part of the body: this will help reduce the swelling.

If the bite is painful, you can take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug with ibuprofen.Ibuprofen syrup can be given to children from three months old, tablets and capsules from six years old. Children of different ages and adults need different dosages of the medication. Therefore, before taking the drug or giving it to a child, read the instructions carefully.

To relieve itching, you can take an antihistamine, and the site of the bite can be lubricated with ointment or cream with glucocorticoids. They need to be used in the same way as for the bite of mosquitoes and midges.

Systemic allergic reaction to Hymenoptera bites is very similar to the systemic reaction to mosquito and midge bites.Call an ambulance at the first sign of it.

How to avoid stings of wasps, hornets, bumblebees and bees

Do not remove wasp nests or disturb insects flying around. If a bee, wasp or hornet has landed on you, freeze and do not wave your hands – and they will soon fly away.

If you dine outdoors, be careful. Stinging insects love sweets, so they often fly to places where people eat melons and watermelons, and can climb into a bottle or can of a sweet drink.

Community 14.05.21

How to get rid of bees in a private house?

In order not to attract bees, wasps and hornets, it is better to eat sweets in the house behind closed doors. And so that they do not fly to the summer kitchen, it makes sense to cover jam and other sweet products with a lid.

What insect bite remedies should be in every first aid kit

Specimen Price
OTC ointment or glucocorticoid cream From 400 R
Levocetirizine antihistamine From 250 R
Calamine or Zinc Oxide Lotion From 100 R
Ibuprofen Syrup for Child From 100 R
Ibuprofen tablets From 100 R
Loratadine syrup for children From 50 R
Total From 1000 R

Non-prescription glucocorticoid ointment or cream

From 400 R

Antihistamine with levocetirizine

From 250 R

Lotion with calamine or zinc oxide

From 100 R

Syrup with ibuprofen for children

From 100 R

Tablets with ibuprofen

From 100 R

Syrup with loratadine for a child

From 50 R


From 1000 R

Bedbug bites and allergies: how to distinguish?

The number of people facing such an unpleasant problem as allergy to bedbugs is increasing every year.Doctors sound the alarm, because not everyone runs to the hospital when they see red spots on their bodies. However, bug bites can cause serious health problems. You need to know how parasites bite and distinguish the symptoms of an individual reaction to bedbug bites from manifestations of allergies to other irritants.

Bites of bugs

You need to know how bloodsuckers bite. These parasites prefer human blood. They feed on a proboscis that looks a bit like a mosquito.On the human body, the parasite finds a capillary and makes a puncture on the thinnest part of the epidermis. It is almost impossible to feel the puncture right away, because at this moment the bug injects a substance under the skin that acts as an anesthetic.

When and where do they bite?

These parasites prefer to bite at night, from 3 to 6 hours. If there are too many individuals in the room, then their bites cannot be avoided even in the daytime. Often insects bite the legs, arms, back, abdomen, neck and face, as in these places the skin is rather thin.You can also notice that traces of lesions appear mainly on open areas of the skin, since bloodsuckers cannot bite through the tissue. Only in rare cases can the parasite get under the clothes.

Whom and how do bugs bite?

Most bugs bite several times. The lesion looks like a slight redness with a scarlet dot in the center. You can see that the spots form a track, and the distance between them can be up to two centimeters. The bites begin to itch and itch a lot.

There are many suggestions that bugs bite preferably women or people with the first and second blood groups. In reality, these are myths.

Parasites react equally to all people. But the fair sex quickly notice bite marks and seek help from specialists. There is nothing unusual in the case of blood types. Since the first and second groups are the most common, there are more complaints about bites from people with just such blood.

Bites of bugs and other insects: differences

The table shows the main differences:

Insect Where does the bite When it bites How to bite What a bite looks like
Bed bugs Unprotected areas of the body with thin skin (neck, arms, face, legs, abdomen, back) Night> Almost nothing is felt in the saliva due to the anesthetic Small redness with a scarlet dot in the center.Several punctures (3-7). They form a “lane”
Fleas Legs, feet, ankles Any time of the day During the bite, unpleasant sensations arise, this place begins to itch Slight redness with swelling
Lice More often they bite on hairy parts of the body, may bite on any part of the body Anytime Itching, irritation appears Red swollen spots, in the center you can see a dried drop of blood.Around the sites of the greatest defeat – cyanotic spots.
Mosquitoes Any open areas of the body Any time, usually during the summer, autumn months The puncture starts to itch after a few minutes Reddish blisters

Allergies and bug bites: what’s the difference?

An allergy arising from infestation by bedbugs is called chemipterase. In order to determine the presence of an allergic reaction in time, you need to know how it manifests itself.

How allergy to bedbugs develops

A local reaction to an insect allergen implies the appearance of more severe itching, swelling, redness than in an unresponsive person. Sometimes this allergy is accompanied by swelling of the entire limb. In some cases, a general allergic reaction may occur with the following symptoms:

  • the appearance of itchy urticaria;
  • nasal congestion;
  • dry cough;
  • tearing;
  • redness of the eyes;
  • muscle spasms of the bronchi;
  • Quincke’s edema;
  • anaphylactic shock.

The most pronounced allergy to bedbugs in young children, as their immune system is insufficiently formed and weak. That is why there is a risk of severe reactions and consequences.

Quincke’s edema

Why is there an allergy to bedbugs

The main reason for the development of allergies is insect saliva, which enters the body when punctured. It disrupts blood clotting, and the anesthetic it contains acts as an allergen.According to statistics, about 80% of the world’s population have an individual intolerance to this substance.

The excrement and chitin of parasites also act as an allergen. The slightest contact with them can lead to skin irritation.

The difference between a bug bite and an allergy

Distinguishing an allergic reaction from a bite is quite simple. Here are the main points by which it can be done:

  1. Static. If parasite bites retain their color and shape for a long time, then the signs of a common allergy change.
  2. Place of reaction. Traces of insect damage can be seen only on open areas of the skin, and they follow each other, forming a “path”. An allergic reaction spreads throughout the body and does not have clear edges and contours.
  3. Skin condition of other family members. If you notice marks on your skin, but your spouse does not have them, then most likely you are faced with a common allergy. If you suspect bedbug bites, you must urgently seek help from the services involved in the extermination of parasites.

Treatment of allergy to bedbug bites

Typically, therapy consists of removing the manifestations of allergy symptoms with antihistamines. In especially severe cases, you have to resort to the help of doctors.

First Aid

If, after a bug attack, a person develops a local allergic reaction, a cold compress should be applied to the affected area. Then the site of the bite should be lubricated with an ointment that relieves itching and inflammation.

Do not scratch the bite site, as this can lead to infection of the wound.

If a person develops anaphylactic shock due to bug bites, first of all you need to call an ambulance, provide first aid. Actions must be clear and quick, as delay can lead to death.

  1. The person should be placed on his back, his head should be turned on the side, and his legs should be placed so that they are higher than the head.
  2. Give victim any antihistamine.
  3. If cardiac arrest occurs or breathing stops, a closed heart massage, artificial respiration is required.

Drug treatment

Symptoms of allergy are treated with such antiallergic drugs:

  • cetirizine;
  • tavegil;
  • claretin;
  • lorahexal;
  • zirtek;
  • fenistil.

Medicines that can be taken by children should only be prescribed by a doctor.

If long-term treatment is necessary, resort to allergen-specific immunotherapy. For a certain time, a person is injected with an allergen in small doses, which leads to a dulling of the symptoms of an allergy or to its complete disappearance.

Folk remedies

Proven home remedies are a great way to not only relieve itching, but also redness after a bite. There are several common recipes.

  1. To relieve itching, crushed plantain or mint leaves wrapped in bandage or gauze should be applied to the affected area.
  2. Pour one tablespoon of finely chopped garlic with a glass of water and leave for 4-5 hours. Then moisten a cotton swab in the infusion and apply to the bite sites.
  3. Cut the onion head and attach it to the bite. This will help relieve itching quickly.

Treatment of bites with folk remedies is longer than the use of drugs.

Prevention of allergy to bedbug bites

First of all, it is worth protecting your house from insects as much as possible.If at least one individual was seen, immediately contact the service that deals with disinsection of premises. Only experts will help completely to destroy bedbugs , and therefore reduce the possibility of allergies to their bites.

In addition, you need:

  • thoroughly and frequently carry out wet cleaning;
  • regularly ventilate the room;
  • Bed linen must be washed at high temperatures and then ironed.

One should be careful when buying furniture and appliances, especially used ones.

If bugs bite on vacation …

Bedbugs can often be found at recreation centers, sanatoriums, hostels. The easiest way to avoid parasites is to move to another hotel. If this cannot be done, you should try to scare them away from the sleeping place:

  1. All bed linen should be shaken and then ironed.
  2. It is worth pouring boiling water into the crevices of the sofa, and then vinegar.Do the same with skirting boards. The bed must be moved away from the walls.
  3. The smell of tansy and wormwood will scare off parasites. Hang bunches of herbs on the bed.

When you get home, shake things up, wash them at a high temperature, and then iron them.

What is the danger?

Bedbugs, unlike other parasites, do not tolerate dangerous diseases. Their main danger is the likelihood of developing anaphylactic shock after a bite, which in rare cases, but can lead to death.Otherwise, bed bugs are not much more dangerous than other domestic parasites.