Bug bite on hand: Pictures, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
All About Bedbugs
Good night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.
The popular children’s rhyme gets it right: Bedbugs do most commonly feed on humans at night while they’re sleeping (though they can sometimes bite during the day), and they’re the type of pest you really don’t want to have to deal with. (1)
Bedbugs (or Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus, their scientific names) are blood-feeding parasites that can be found all around the world. You mostly hear about them in urban areas or places with a great deal of occupant turnover, such as hotels, apartment buildings, and college dormitories, because that’s where they spread most easily. (1)
Bedbugs were nearly extinct after World War II thanks to the use of dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT). The United States banned DDT in 1972 because of its negative environmental effects, and the less-effective pesticides that came after it, along with a rise in international travel and immigration, has contributed to the bedbug resurgence we’re experiencing today. (3)
What Do Bedbugs Look Like, and How Do I Know I Have Them?
Bedbugs are reddish-brown insects that feed on blood, primarily blood from humans. (4) Bedbugs crawl, but cannot fly or jump like many other insects do. (1) Also unlike cockroaches and flies, bedbugs have no relationship with cleanliness and can be found in the cleanest homes and hotel rooms, says Scott Svenheim, an associate certified entomologist with Truly Nolen Pest Control in Tucson, Arizona.
“Many people believe that bedbugs are too small to see with the naked eye,” adds Jerry Lazarus, president of Braman Termite & Pest Elimination. Not so: Adult bedbugs range in size from 1 to 7 millimeters. But they’re very good at hiding. To spot them, you’ll have to catch them moving to or from their hiding spots, which can be hard to do, since they’re most active while people are sleeping. They have six legs and their bodies are small and flat, which makes it easy for them to hide within the cracks and crevices of your home.
Female bedbugs produce about one egg per day. The eggs are white and are very hard to see without magnification, Lazarus says. The eggs take about one week to hatch in rooms that are between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (F). The nymphs that hatch from those eggs look like adult bedbugs, but they’re smaller and are translucent until they have their first blood meal, Svenheim says. (1) The nymphs take about five weeks to mature, and during those five weeks they shed their skin five times, each time after feeding. (5)
Learn More About How to Know You Have Bedbugs
Bedbug Bites Can Be Intensely Itchy — or You May Not Even Notice Them
Bedbugs are sneaky insects. They bite in the middle of the night (usually about one hour before dawn), injecting an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that makes it painless and unlikely that you’ll feel a thing. After feeding for about five minutes, the bugs will retreat back to their hiding places.
For most people, the first sign of bedbugs is bites on the body. The bites will show up in any place that’s exposed while you sleep, such as the arms, legs, back, and neck.
More on Bug Bites
What Bit Me? Spot These 11 Bug Bites
You could have a single bite, but more often it’s three bites in a row, forming somewhat of a line—what’s colloquially called “breakfast, lunch, and dinner” and is a telltale sign of bedbugs.
Bites can look different from person to person. “In some people, they can cause allergic reactions, although some people don’t react at all,” Lazarus says. In most cases, a bedbug bite looks a lot like a mosquito bite — a red, itchy bump on your skin that appears within 24 hours of your being bitten.
Though the idea of having bedbugs in your home can be troubling, the bugs themselves don’t pose a threat to your health (nor do their bites). (1) “These bites can’t spread disease to humans, but they can be itchy and uncomfortable,” says Steve Durham, president of EnviroCon Termite & Pest in Tomball, Texas.
You likely won’t need to visit a doctor as a result of getting bitten by a bedbug. (6) Usually, the bites will heal within two weeks on their own, though you may want to apply an anti-itch cream or corticosteroid cream to the area to relieve itchiness. (7)
If you experience an allergic reaction or the area shows signs of infection, such as if the area oozes pus, it may be time to visit a dermatologist. He or she will likely prescribe an antihistamine and corticosteroid to treat an allergic reaction, or an antiseptic or antibiotic ointment for an infection.
Learn More About Identifying and Treating Bedbug Bites
Bedbugs Are Notoriously Tough to Get Rid Of (But You CAN Do It)
“One of the main reasons people fear bedbug infestations more than most other pests is because they are notoriously tough to get rid of,” Durham says. That’s why many people turn to professionals for help. “Most do-it-yourself attempts end in failure and frustration, since over-the-counter products can be misapplied and infested areas can be easily missed,” Lazarus says. “Often, this means spending a lot of your own money and time and still having a problem.” (Plus, failure to correctly use DIY extermination products can be dangerous to your health and those you live with.)
If you decide to go the professional route, there are three common treatment options the pest control expert may take:
- Insecticide Application Use of insecticides is the most common route to get rid of bedbugs. Treating bedbugs this way requires preparation, such as washing bedding and clothing and placing items that can’t be washed in garbage bags out in the hot sun. Sometimes, a few rounds of insecticides are needed to get rid of the bedbug population entirely.
- Heat Remediation A pest control professional will heat the infected space to temperatures that kill bedbugs, usually between 120 and 130 degrees F. This method requires much less prep work than insecticide application and usually will successfully eliminate the bedbugs and the eggs on the first treatment, so there’s likely no need for a follow-up visit.
- Fumigation This option is less commonly available. It works by injecting a vacated building with a gas that kills the bedbugs inside.
You can also try to apply insecticides yourself, though the products available to professionals are usually more effective than those available to consumers. When choosing a product, look for one that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and specifically lists bedbugs on the label. (8) You’ll likely need to do a few rounds of treatment, because it can be very difficult to find and kill bedbug eggs.
To successfully get rid of bedbugs, you need to be extremely thorough. “Bedbugs are excellent at hiding and will be in places where most people wouldn’t check — behind peeling wallpaper, in the rails of drawers, in hollow curtain rods, and in electronics,” Lazarus says. If even just one bedbug is left behind, you’ll still be in trouble, Durham says.
Learn More About How to Get Rid of Bedbugs
The Insecticides Used to Kill Bedbugs Can Be Harmful to People (and Pets), Too, if Used Incorrectly
It’s important to approach bedbug treatment carefully, because insecticides that are used to kill bedbugs can also be harmful to you if you’re exposed to unsafe levels. Symptoms of unsafe pesticide exposure include vomiting, dizziness, headaches, and trouble breathing. (9)
More on Safety
Insecticides and Autoimmune Disease: What Women Should Know
When they’re used safely and according to the label, insecticides shouldn’t pose a threat to you or any other family members or pets you live with, Lazarus says. Insecticides are sold as dusts, liquids, aerosols, and foggers. There are also organic and natural products on the market, though some research has found they’re not as effective at killing bedbugs as traditional insecticides. (10)
If you hire a professional to treat the bedbugs in your home, you’ll want to ask them a few safety-related questions, including:
- What insecticides do you plan to use? You can look up the products yourself (or consult your doctor or vet about them) to see if there are any precautions you need to take. (11)
- Do you have a list of references? Call the references to ask about their experience working with this company.
- Are you a certified, licensed pesticide applicator or a licensed technician?
- Do you use integrated pest management techniques? This effective approach attacks bedbugs from all angles and treats them with a combination of heat, steam, and insecticides. (12)
Watch out for insecticide products sold over the internet that come from outside the U.S. — they may contain ingredients that have been banned by the EPA, which could mean health (and potentially legal) issues for you. (13)
Learn More About How to Deal With Bedbugs Safely
To Prevent Getting Bedbugs, Be Smart About How They Spread
Bedbugs are excellent hitchhikers. They grab onto luggage and purses or find hiding spots within folded clothes to make it back to your home. Getting them is just bad luck. “There is no real reason one person would get bedbugs over someone else,” Svenheim says. “It’s just being in the wrong place at the wrong time where bedbugs exist. ”
And they can exist everywhere, from restaurant booths to seats at the movie theater to changing rooms at the mall. “It’s really about being educated about what they are, how you can get them, and doing things the right way to prevent you from bringing them back to your house,” says Eric Braun, a board-certified entomologist and technical services manager for the national pest control company Rentokil.
There are some precautions you can take to minimize the chances that you’ll end up taking home a bedbug on your next trip.
- When you check into a hotel room or settle into a home rental, inspect the space for pepper-like stains on the bedsheets and mattress seams, Lazarus says. That’s a sign of bedbug activity. If you think your room may have bedbugs, ask for a new room that’s not next to or directly above or below your original room, Lazarus suggests.
- Keep your luggage away from the bed and off the floor. Braun says not to use luggage racks or unpack your clothing into the hotel room drawers. He says it’s safest to keep your luggage stored in the bathtub.
- If you notice bedbug bites while on your trip, be sure to wash the clothing from your suitcase (whether you wore it or not) and dry on hot for at least 30 minutes for the best chances to kill the bugs before they infest your home — and use a portable steamer to apply heat to suitcases and any items that cannot go in the dryer, Lazarus says.
Frequent travelers aren’t the only ones at risk of picking up a hitchhiking bedbug. People who live in apartment buildings and dormitories also have an increased risk (because higher rates of turnover and closer living quarters increase the chances bedbugs will have the opportunity to spread). Because of this, many universities recommend students wrap their mattress and box spring with a protective cover or mattress encasement to keep bedbugs out. (14) Look for ones made of high-quality cloth, which won’t tear as easily as plastic.
People living in apartments should also consider adding a door sweep to their front door to minimize the chances that bedbugs will sneak in from the communal hallway. (15) Keeping cracks around electrical work or plumbing filled also gives the bedbugs fewer places to break in. (16)
Finally, be careful not to bring bedbugs into your home through secondhand furniture by inspecting the items before you purchase them.
Learn More About How to Prevent Bedbugs
Having Bedbugs Can Come With an Emotional Toll. Here’s What to Do About It
Bedbug infestations are treatable, and the bugs themselves don’t pose a threat to your health, but having to deal with bedbugs can be very stressful.
“Having an actual bedbug infestation is pretty psychologically traumatizing in general,” says Katherine Maloy, MD, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health in New York City. “It’s extremely overwhelming — even just the logistics of getting your home cleaned — and it takes a very long time because the bugs have a long dormancy period in which they can go without food.” In the right conditions, bedbugs can live for more than a year without feeding.
Wondering if they’re truly gone or not can cause a lot of anxiety. People dealing with bedbugs may also experience: (17,18)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Social isolation
RELATED: When Doctors Diagnose ‘Bedbug Psychosis’
Additionally, dealing with bedbugs can make existing mental health issues worse. Researchers say the toll the experience takes on one’s mental health is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. (19)
Dr. Maloy says if you’re dealing with bedbugs, talk to someone you trust, and visit a professional if it’s really taking a toll on your life. “It’s the same as with anything else that’s causing distress,” Maloy says. “If it’s interfering with your functioning, if it’s interfering with your life, it’s interfering with your relationships and your work, if you’re not able to function because you’re not sleeping,” she says — it’s time to seek help.
Learn More About Getting Over the Mental Distress Bedbugs Can Bring
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Pictures, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
The initial contact of a bite may be painful. It’s often followed by an allergic reaction to venom deposited into your skin through the animal’s mouth or stinger. The appearance can vary.
Whether you’re in the water, on a mountain trail, or in your backyard, wildlife you encounter have ways of protecting themselves and their territory.
Insects, such as bees, ants, fleas, flies, mosquitoes, and wasps, and arachnids, such as spiders, ticks, and scorpions, may bite or sting if you get close. Most of these animals won’t bother you if you don’t bother them, but knowing what to look for is key.
Most bites and stings trigger nothing more than minor discomfort, but some encounters can be deadly, especially if you have severe allergies to the animal’s venom.
A severe allergic reaction can happen with any bug bite or sting, depending on the person. Venom allergies may cause a dangerous, severe allergic reaction in some people, resulting in swelling, generalized itching, and difficulty breathing.
Signs of an emergency
Anaphylaxis can be a life threatening emergency. If someone experiences signs of a severe allergic reaction, call 911 or your local emergency services. Anaphylaxis can cause symptoms, including rash, low pulse, and anaphylactic shock. This can be fatal if it isn’t treated immediately.
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Prevention is the best medicine, so knowing how to recognize and avoid biting and stinging insects or arachnids is the best way to stay safe.
The animals you should recognize and understand depend very much on where you live or where you’re visiting. Different regions of the United States are home to many of these creatures.
The season also matters. For example, mosquitoes, stinging bees, and wasps tend to come out in full force during the summer.
The form a bite takes depends on what type of animal bit you. Take a look at the photos below to help identify which animal may have caused your bug bite.
Warning: Graphic images ahead.
- A mosquito bite is a small, round, puffy bump that appears soon after you’ve been bitten.
- The bump will become red, hard, swollen, and itchy.
- You may have multiple bites in the same area.
Read full article on mosquito bites.
Fire ant stings
- Fire ants are small, aggressive, red or black venomous ants that bite and then deliver painful stings.
- Stings appear as swollen red spots that develop a blister on top.
- Stings burn, itch, and last up to a week.
Read full article on fire ant stings.
- Flea bites are usually located in clusters on the lower legs and feet.
- The itchy, red bumps are surrounded by a red halo.
- Symptoms begin immediately after you’re bitten.
Read full article on flea bites.
- The itchy rash is caused by an allergic reaction to the bedbug bite.
- The small rashes have red, swollen areas and dark red centers.
- Bites may appear in a line or grouped together, usually on areas of the body not covered by clothing, such as the hands, neck, or feet.
- There may be very itchy blisters or hives at the bite site.
Read full article on bedbug bites.
- Painful, itchy rashes are caused by an inflammatory reaction at the site of the fly bite.
- Though usually harmless, they may lead to severe allergic reactions or spread insect-borne diseases.
- Take precautions when traveling to endemic countries by wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants and by using bug spray.
Read full article on fly bites.
- Head lice, pubic lice (“crabs”), and body lice are different species of parasitic lice that affect humans.
- They feed on blood and cause an itchy immune reaction at the site of their bites.
- Adult lice are gray/tan six-legged insects about the size of a tiny sesame seed.
- Nits (eggs) and nymphs (baby lice) can only be seen as very tiny specks that may look like dandruff.
Read full article on lice.
- Painful, itchy rashes may be caused by an immune response to the bites of tiny mite larvae.
- Bites appear as welts, blisters, pimples, or hives.
- Bites will generally appear in groups and are extremely itchy.
- Chigger bites may be grouped in skin folds or near areas where clothing fits tightly.
- Chiggers tend to jump from grass, so bites are usually on legs near the tops of socks.
Read full article on chigger bites.
- Bites can cause pain or swelling at the bite area.
- They may also lead to a rash, a burning sensation, blisters, or difficulty breathing.
- The tick often remains attached to the skin for a long time.
- Bites rarely appear in groups.
- Ticks can transfer diseases, including Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis.
Read full article on tick bites.
- Symptoms caused by scabies mites may take 4 to 6 weeks to appear.
- The extremely itchy rash may be pimply, made up of tiny blisters, or scaly.
- They may cause raised, white, or flesh-toned lines.
Read full article on scabies.
Share on PinterestEzytyper and added inset by B Kimmel/GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0 from Wikimedia Commons
This condition is considered a medical emergency, and 911 or local emergency services should be contacted. Urgent care may be required.
- Most spiders don’t pose a threat to humans, and in such cases, their bites are harmless or mildly irritating like a bee sting.
- Dangerous spiders include the brown recluse, black widow, funnel web spider (Australia), and wandering spider (South America).
- A single raised papule, pustule, or wheal may appear at the site of the bite followed by redness and tenderness.
- The bite will appear as two small puncture marks.
- Severe allergic reactions to a spider bite may require medical attention.
Read full article on spider bites.
Brown recluse spider bite
- This is a shy, brown- or tan-colored spider with a violin-shaped patch and six paired eyes, two in the front and two sets of two on either side of the head.
- It likes to hide in quiet, dark places like closets and bookshelves and is native to the South and South Central regions of the United States.
- Nonaggressive, it will only bite humans if it’s being crushed between skin and a hard surface.
- Redness appears with a central, white blister at the site of the bite.
- Moderate to severe pain and itching at the site of the bite occurs 2 to 8 hours after the spider has injected its venom.
- Rare complications include fever, body aches, nausea, vomiting, hemolytic anemia, rhabdomyolysis, and kidney failure.
Read full article on brown recluse spider bites.
Black widow spider bite
Share on Pinterest© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology/NCBI
This condition is considered a medical emergency, and 911 or local emergency services should be contacted. Urgent care may be required.
- This spider is plump, black, and shiny, with an hourglass-shaped red mark on its abdomen.
- It’s nonaggressive and will only bite if it’s being crushed.
- Bites cause muscle pain and spasms in the arms, legs, abdomen, and back.
- Tremor, sweating, weakness, chills, nausea, vomiting, and headache are other symptoms.
- The bite area is red with a white center.
Read full article on black widow spider bites.
Hobo spider bite
- The venom of this common household spider isn’t considered toxic to humans.
- Bites are generally harmless and cause only minor pain, swelling, and sometimes muscle twitches.
- A single red area appears with a tender central nodule.
- Itching, burning, or stinging may occur at the site of the bite.
Read full article on hobo spider bites.
Wolf spider bite
- This large (up to 2 inches long), fuzzy, gray/brown spider is native to many parts of the United States.
- Nonaggressive, it will bite if it feels threatened.
- A tender, itchy red bump appears that heals in 7 to 10 days.
Read full article on wolf spider bites.
- These large (1-inch long) blood-sucking flies are most active in the daylight hours.
- An instant, sharp burning sensation occurs when a horsefly bites.
- Itchiness, redness, swelling, and bruising may also occur at the bite location.
Read full article on horsefly bites.
- Pain, redness, swelling, or itching occurs at the site of the sting.
- A white spot appears where the stinger punctured the skin.
- Unlike bumblebees and carpenter bees, honeybees can only sting once due to their barbed stinger that can remain in the skin.
Read full article on bee sting allergy.
Yellow jacket stings
- These thin wasps have black and yellow stripes and long dark wings.
- Aggressive, a yellow jacket may sting multiple times.
- Swelling, tenderness, itchiness, or redness may occur near the area that’s been stung.
Read full article on yellow jacket stings.
- Sharp pain, redness, swelling, and itching or burning occurs at the sting site.
- A raised welt appears around the sting site.
- Wasps can be aggressive and are capable of stinging multiple times.
Read full article on wasp stings.
- Scorpions are eight-legged arachnids with large pincers and long, segmented, stinger-tipped tails carried in a forward curve over their backs.
- Many species with variable levels of toxicity can be found all over the world.
- Intense pain, tingling, numbness, and swelling occur around the sting.
- Rare symptoms include breathing difficulties, muscle twitching, drooling, sweating, nausea, vomiting, an increased heart rate, restlessness, and excitability.
- Severe symptoms are more likely in infants and children than adults.
Read full article on scorpion stings.
Puss caterpillar stings
- Puss caterpillars may also be known as asp caterpillars, fire caterpillars, woolly slugs, or opossum bugs, and are the larvae of the flannel moth.
- They have venomous barbs on their bodies.
- They typically reside in the Southeast United States but have been found as far west as Florida and Texas.
- A string can cause skin irritation and itchiness, severe pain, and headache.
Kissing bug bites
Share on PinterestHorizons WWP / Alamy Stock Photo & Curtis-Robles et al., CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
- Triatomine bugs, also called kissing bugs, tend to bite people on the face or near the mouth.
- These bugs tend to reside in Mexico, Central America, South America, and parts of the United States.
- They carry a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi and can T. cruzi infection and Chagas disease.
- While there are different varieties of kissing bugs, they typically have a cone-shaped head and a long, oval-shaped body with antennae and six legs. They can be light brown to black in color and may have yellow, red, or tan markings.
- Bite reactions may include mild itching, redness, and swelling. With a T. cruzi infection, a small hard area may form at the bite site.
Read full article on kissing bug bites.
Deer fly bites
Share on PinterestBruce Marlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons & juhat/Istock
- Deer flies have small, round heads, brownish-black bands on their wings, and gold or green eyes.
- Their bites can be painful and cause bumps or welts.
- Their bites can sometimes cause a rare bacterial disease known as rabbit fever (tularemia) that may cause skin ulcers, fever, and headache.
Read full article on fly bites.
Here are some bugs that can be more dangerous than others.
Biting insects, arachnids, and other bugs
Many bugs bite, but only a few do so intentionally. Most bites are relatively harmless, leaving just an itchy patch of skin behind. But some bites can carry disease. Deer ticks, for example, typically carry Lyme disease.
Intentional biters include:
- chigger mites
- scabies mites
- head lice
- pubic lice
- black flies
- pus caterpillars
- kissing bugs
- deer flies
Many larger insects and other bugs won’t seek you out but will bite if handled.
Some spiders have venomous fangs. Venomous spiders found in the United States include:
- brown recluse spiders
- black widow spiders
- mouse spiders
- black house spiders
Insects will sting humans only to defend against a perceived threat. Typically, a sting from a bee or stinging ant will be accompanied by a small amount of venom.
When injected into your skin, the venom causes most of the itching and pain associated with the sting. It can also cause an allergic reaction.
Common stinging insects in the United States include:
- paper wasps (hornets)
- yellow jackets
- fire ants
Scorpions have a reputation for stinging. Many species have barbed tails equipped with venom, some strong enough to kill a human.
The most venomous species of scorpion native to the United States is the Arizona bark scorpion.
The venom injected into your body from the bite or sting of an insect or arachnid will cause your immune system to respond. Often, your body’s immediate response will include redness and swelling at the bite or sting site.
Minor delayed reactions include itching and soreness.
If you’re very sensitive to an animal’s venom, bites and stings can cause a potentially fatal condition called anaphylactic shock. This can cause the throat to tighten and make breathing difficult or cause low blood pressure.
Anaphylactic shock is considered an emergency, and 911 or local emergency services should be contacted.
Some bites and stings may cause illnesses when venom contains infectious agents.
Anyone can be bitten or stung by an insect or arachnid, and bites and stings are very common. You’re at greater risk if you spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural or wooded locations.
Children and older adults may have more severe reactions to bites and stings.
If you’re bitten or stung, you may see or feel the animal on your skin during the attack. Some people don’t notice the animal and may not be aware of a bite or sting until one or more of the following symptoms emerge:
- redness or rash
- pain in the affected area or in the muscles
- heat on and around the site of the bite or sting
- numbness or tingling in the affected area
Symptoms of a severe reaction requiring immediate medical treatment include:
- difficulty breathing
- nausea or vomiting
- muscle spasms
- rapid heart rate
- swelling of the lips and throat
- loss of consciousness
If you feel ill or experience flu-like symptoms in the days following an insect or arachnid bite, see a doctor for tests to rule out infections or diseases you may have contracted from the animal.
While not every insect bite or sting can cause an infection or disease, some insects can transmit diseases this way.
These insects and the diseases they may transmit can include:
- Mosquitos: insect-borne diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, dengue fever, yellow fever, and several viruses that cause encephalitis
- Fleas: bacterial infection, rarely
- Flies: insect-borne diseases
- Sand flies: leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease, though cases occur tropical and subtropical environments
- Lice: epidemic typhus, Bartonella quintana infection, and epidemic relapsing fever
- Chiggers: scrub typhus, though most cases occur in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, China, Japan, India, and northern Australia
- Ticks: tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis
- Kissing bugs: Chagas disease
- Deer flies: tularemia
Many people are aware they’ve been bitten or stung because they see the insect or arachnid shortly after the attack.
Although you shouldn’t further provoke an attacking insect or arachnid, try to preserve the animal if it dies following the bite or sting. Its identity may help a doctor properly diagnose your symptoms.
This is especially important for a spider bite, as some species have dangerously potent venom.
The majority of bites and stings can be treated at home, especially if your reaction is mild.
To treat a bite or sting:
- Remove the stinger if it’s lodged in your skin.
- Wash the affected area.
- Apply an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling.
Topical anti-itch creams, oral pain relievers, and antihistamines may be used to combat uncomfortable symptoms.
You may also want to consider applying a thin paste of baking soda and water to the sting to calm the itching.
Call 911 or your local emergency services number immediately if symptoms of a severe reaction are present.
First aid instructions while waiting for paramedics to arrive include:
- loosening the victim’s clothing
- laying them on their side
- performing CPR if breathing or the heartbeat stops
If you believe a spider of the black widow or brown recluse variety has bitten you, contact 911 or local emergency services immediately even if symptoms seem minor or haven’t emerged.
Scorpion bites also should be treated as an emergency, and 911 or local emergency services should be contacted, regardless of symptoms.
Most bites and stings heal by themselves after several days of mild discomfort.
Monitor the affected site for signs of infection. Contact a doctor if the wound appears to be getting worse or hasn’t healed after several weeks.
Bites and stings that cause severe reactions can be fatal if they aren’t treated immediately.
Once you’ve experienced a severe allergic reaction, a doctor will likely prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector. Epinephrine is a hormone that can prevent anaphylactic shock.
Carry the auto-injector with you at all times to reverse the reaction immediately following a bite or sting.
If you need help finding a primary care doctor, then check out our FindCare tool here.
Use caution when near nests or hives containing aggressive insects. Hire professionals who have the proper safety equipment to remove a nest or hive.
When spending time outside, take preventive measures, such as:
- wearing hats and clothing that provide full coverage
- wearing neutral colors and avoiding floral patterns
- avoiding perfume and scented lotion
- keeping food and drinks covered
- using citronella or insect repellent
- using permethrin on clothing to prevent black-legged tick bites
- Ellwanger JH, et al. (2021). Variability in human attractiveness to mosquitoes. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2667114X21000522
- Bites and stings: Insects. (n.d.). https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/bites-and-stings-insects
- Body lice: Disease. (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/body/disease.html
- Goldman BS, et al. (2022). Caterpillar and moth bites. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539851/
- McKeown N, et al. (2014). Verified spider bites in Oregon (USA) with the intent to assess hobo spider venom toxicity. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0041010114000920
- Parasites – American trypanosomiasis (also known as Chagas disease). (2022). https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/chagas/
- Powers J, et al. (2022). Insect bites. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537235/
- Preventing tick bites. (2020). https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html
- Typhus fevers. (2020). https://www.cdc.gov/typhus/index.html
6 dangerous insects: blister beetle, scolopendra and others
Rights and safety while traveling
This summer, many of us will travel to Russia – and for sure it will be an unforgettable experience.
At the same time, it would be nice to do without seeking emergency medical help.
We have collected dangerous insects that can greatly spoil the experience of the trip.
How to quickly recognize an insect
To find out the name of a bug, download the Google app (iOS/Android), click on the colored square in the search bar, and point your camera at the insect.
As a result, the system will recognize the insect and display its name. See how it works:
Latin name. Mylabris quadripunctata.
Special signs. Bright red, yellow and green are more common. The body of an adult beetle is large – about the size of the phalanx of the index finger.
Blisters stay on plants singly or in groups of 2-4 individuals. Source: pavelazarov / Instagram
When you can meet. May – August.
Where you can meet. Distributed in the Southern and North Caucasian districts, in the Krasnodar Territory and Southwestern Siberia. Blisters inhabit mainly steppe regions and savannahs; they can also be found in deserts and semi-deserts.
What is dangerous. A beetle may fall on a person from a tree or collide with him in flight. The beetle has in its blood – its scientific name “hemolymph” – the poison cantharidin is present. When stressed, the blister secretes a small amount of cantharidin.
The poison can damage the skin: a burn in the form of a watery bubble forms at the point of contact. Most often, the hands, neck, and face are affected. If there are wounds or scratches on the skin, the burns will be worse.
If the beetle, and along with it, cantharidin, gets into food, intoxication may develop. During the first 10 minutes after the use of cantharidin, burning of the lips, oral cavity and pharynx begins. Sores may form in the mouth, and the tongue may swell. Then nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are added to this, accompanied by pain in the abdomen.
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How to help the victim. A person who has accidentally eaten a bug needs to wash his stomach: drink several glasses of water and induce vomiting. If cantharidin gets on the skin, disinfect it with chlorhexidine and try not to damage the blisters so as not to bring infection and dirt.
How not to get hurt. Do not pick up blister beetles, and even more so do not crush with your hands and feet: there is a risk of accidentally coming into contact with poison.
Latin name. Scolopendra cingulata.
Special signs. Scolopendra is a large brown centipede and about 12 centimeters long: about the size of a smartphone or the average human palm.
As a rule, centipedes sleep or hide under rocks or in cracks during the day, and come out at night to hunt insects and small lizards
When available. April – August.
Where you can meet. On the eastern coast of the Crimean peninsula.
What is the danger. Scolopendra is especially dangerous in early spring, when its glands fill with poison. Usually centipedes avoid meeting with a person and bite only if they are picked up. On a scale of pain, a sting is equivalent to 10-15 bee stings.
Bites are not only painful, but also provoke general malaise, and the mucus secreted by insects causes burning, itching and irritation of the skin. The bite site swells, the temperature rises sharply to 38-39degrees, chills and body aches occur. The severity of symptoms depends on the size of the centipede and the amount of poison injected, but one bite will not lead to death.
Symptoms last up to two days, then the temperature begins to subside, and the swelling at the bite site decreases. Scolopendra bites are most difficult for children and adults with allergies.
How to help the victim. Wash the bite site with soap and water and treat the skin with an alcohol antiseptic or hydrogen peroxide to avoid getting infections under the skin: there could be earth particles on the legs of centipede.
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You can smear the wound healing ointment on the bite site. If the skin is swollen, apply a cold compress to it. Over-the-counter antipyretics such as ibuprofen or paracetamol will help relieve pain and bring down the temperature. If an allergic reaction develops – the bitten area swells and hurts – you need to take an antihistamine.
If discomfort persists for more than two days, see a doctor.
How not to get hurt. If you notice a scolopendra on your clothes or body, do not make sudden movements, do not shake it off and do not try to slap it: this will make it angry. It is necessary to contain the panic and let the scolopendra leave on its own, or gently push it off with a stick raised from the ground.
Check things and shoes carefully before putting them on. If you spend the night in nature, inspect the backpack, tent and sleeping bag each time before use.
Asian giant hornet
Latin name. Vespa mandarinia.
Special signs. Can be about half the length of an adult’s index finger. The sting of the giant hornet reaches 6 millimeters. Unlike bees, which leave a sting at the site of the bite, the hornet uses it repeatedly.
Usually hornets use this weapon when attacking bee nests to feed on larvae
When available. May – August.
Where can you meet. In the Primorsky Territory, in the south of the Khabarovsk Territory and in the Jewish Autonomous Region.
What is dangerous. The venom of the giant hornet contains an extremely toxic substance, mandorotoxin. It is most dangerous for those who are allergic to bee or wasp venom: one bite is enough for a fatal outcome.
Severe pain immediately occurs at the site of the lesion. At the point of impact of the sting, a dense white blister of a small size appears. A red spot and swelling quickly spread around. The most dangerous places for a bite are the tongue or the neck area. With swelling of the larynx, the access of oxygen to the respiratory tract is blocked – the victim may suffocate.
The hornet’s body also contains a pheromone that attracts other individuals and makes them act aggressively towards humans. About twenty hornet stings can kill an adult even without an allergy to poison.
How to help the victim. Rinse the bite with cold, clean water and apply an ice pack or cold water to the skin. This will reduce the pain and slow the spread of the poison. If a hornet has stung your wrist or finger, you need to remove all rings and bracelets from your hand: it can swell up a lot.
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The victim should be given water to drink – this will reduce the concentration of poison in the blood.
If the victim gets worse or is known to be allergic, take them to the doctor or call an ambulance immediately. When breathing stops, you need to start doing artificial respiration and continue until a doctor is nearby.
How not to get hurt. If possible, stay away from flowering plants, as wasps and hornets can be found next to them. Also, hornets often fly for sweets, so do not leave drinks and food open.
The only way to escape from the attack of a swarm of hornets is to run for cover: it can be a tent or a car. As a last resort, dive into any body of water. You need to dive into the water with your head, holding your breath, and periodically emerge to inhale. When emerging, create more splashes to scare away the hornets. After a few minutes, the insects will lose interest in you and fly away.
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Latin name. Nepidae.
Special signs. Actually, it’s a bug. The water scorpion is named so for its external resemblance to a scorpion: its forelimbs are like claws, and behind it is a long tail process. The body of a water scorpion is flat, similar in shape and color to a withered leaf. At the rear end is a breathing tube, which can be mistaken for a sting. In reality, the danger lies ahead.
Water scorpions are 2 centimeters long. They live in stagnant water, lakes or rivers with a very slow flow of water and a large amount of algae and reeds. They lead a rather passive lifestyle, sometimes going down to the depths to hunt
When you can meet. In the bathing season.
Where you can meet. Throughout Russia.
What is dangerous. Grabs the skin very painfully. Having noticed its prey, the scorpion with a swift maneuver exposes the front pair of legs, similar to the jaws, and grabs the prey – a person can play this role. The legs of the insect bend at the joint like a folding knife and can cut the skin to blood.
The scorpion lives along the shore, as coastal plants have insect larvae, tadpoles, and fish fry on which it feeds. But sometimes it can sink to a depth greater than human height. If a scorpion injures a person’s arm or leg while swimming, the limb may cramp – and it will be much more difficult to get to the shore.
What to do if bitten by a tick
What to do if bitten. If you are bitten at depth, scream to get people’s attention. If a cramp appears after a bite, then get out of the water as soon as possible. If it is far from the shore, act like this:
- Change the position of the body: if you swam on your chest, roll over onto your back, and vice versa. This will reduce the load on the muscles affected by cramps.
- If the cramp is in the hand, quickly and forcefully clench your hand into a fist, pressing it to yourself, then throw your hand away from you and open your fist. Repeat this action several times until the cramp is gone.
- If your lower leg is cramped, try to bend over and grab your foot with your hands, and then pull your foot by the toes towards you, straightening your leg.
- If your hip is cramped, wrap your arm around your ankle just below the ankle. Then, with force, pull the leg with your hand back towards your back.
- It is more convenient to perform all these manipulations while lying on the water on your back.
- Once out of the water, apply chlorhexidine to the bite and apply ice to relieve pain and swelling.
How not to get hurt. Try not to enter stagnant water that is overgrown with reeds. Don’t swim alone, or at least don’t swim far from shore.
Red wood ant
Latin name. Formica rufa.
Special signs. 7 to 14 millimeters long, red-brown.
Red ants live in anthills of various sizes. They can be found almost anywhere in nature
When can be found. From the second half of May to the middle of September.
Where to meet. In the north of the Krasnoyarsk Territory and in the forests of the temperate zone of Northern Eurasia.
What is dangerous. Ants carry pathogenic bacteria that can cause various diseases in humans, such as typhoid fever or cholera. During a bite, an ant releases a small dose of acid, which causes a red spot to form in this place, sometimes a small blister.
Pain not greater than that of a mosquito bite. Itching and irritation on the skin usually disappear after 3-5 days.
How to help the victim. Clean the bite with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. To relieve redness and reduce pain, ice wrapped in a cloth can be applied to the skin. In pharmacies, you can buy an antihistamine ointment, such as Fenistil or its analogues. In case of a severe allergic reaction, when swelling and extensive redness the size of a palm develops around the bite, contact a dermatologist or allergist immediately.
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How not to get hurt. Do not leave food or sugary drinks outdoors or in a tent. Ants smell water and sweets and come to dine in large groups.
Check for ants on your feet when you walk in the forest or in places where anthills are found, including underground ones – they look like small holes in the sandy soil. Shake insects off of you to prevent them from biting.
Latin name. Culicidae.
Special signs. Mosquitoes can look completely different, and large size does not always mean danger.
|Here is a centipede mosquito, it does not bite humans and animals at all, but the townsfolk are more afraid of it than of blood-sucking relatives
|Mosquitoes are especially numerous in the evening near open water bodies, because they need water for reproduction. During the day in sunny weather, they almost do not appear
Here is a centipede mosquito, it does not bite humans and animals at all, but the townsfolk are more afraid of it than of its blood-sucking relatives. Mosquitoes are especially numerous in the evening near open water bodies, because they need water for reproduction. During the day in sunny weather, they almost do not appear
When you can meet. At the end of May – beginning of September.
Where you can meet. Throughout Russia.
What is dangerous. Female mosquitoes need protein to reproduce, so they suck the blood of animals and humans. Piercing the skin, the mosquito inserts its proboscis into a blood vessel and secretes saliva. The proteins in its composition cause an immune reaction in a person, which is manifested by itching and swelling. Combing the skin after a bite, you can bring an infection into the wound and provoke the development of an abscess.
Mosquitoes also carry parasitic and infectious diseases: malaria, West Nile fever, eastern equine encephalitis, tularemia. They are not often found on the territory of Russia, but such cases do happen.
How to help the victim . To reduce itching, apply a damp cloth or ice wrapped in a cloth to the skin. If discomfort persists, apply calamine zinc oxide lotion to skin.
Medical attention is needed if swelling develops after a bite, blisters appear. Give the victim any over-the-counter antihistamine for allergies, and lubricate the bite site with an anti-inflammatory cream with a glucocorticosteroid. Any one sold in a pharmacy without a prescription will do.
How not to get hurt. In nature, especially in the forest, in the shade, cover open areas of the body, use deterrents: sprays, creams, combustible coils and fumigators.
Dangerous insects and their bites – blog of the medical center ON Clinic
Summer brings not only warm days and the opportunity to relax in nature, but also stinging, biting insects. Due to our negligence, a hike in the mountains, a picnic or a vacation can be ruined, and the health consequences will have to be settled for more than one week.
Outdoor activities can lead to unpleasant exposure to ticks. It doesn’t matter where exactly we are located: in the yard, in the city park or in the forest. Every year, these insects conquer more and more green areas, and cases of infection with borreliosis or encephalitis are becoming more frequent.
The tick season lasts as long as the warm weather. Fortunately, in our country, most of the diseases transmitted by ticks do not find distribution due to the small number of dangerous tick-like species compared to other countries. For example, in the United States, Canada, and Brazil, more than 600 people are infected with Rocky Mountain spotted fever each year. This is a disease caused by a tick that carries the bacteria rickettsia. However, Lyme disease, caused by ixodid ticks, can also be contracted in Ukraine.
Ticks carry many infectious diseases, including typhoid. As soon as a tick gets on our skin, it is able to move around the body, looking for more comfortable places to live. To prevent a tick bite in places of increased danger (in the forest, among the wild), closed clothing without folds in light shades and insect protection helps.
Tick bites may not be detected immediately. Sometimes there is no inflammation, allergic or toxic reaction on the skin. Infectionists explain this by the fact that by piercing the skin, the tick injects an anesthetic that acts as an anesthetic. For this reason, the bitten does not feel pain.
Ixodes ticks that transmit Lyme disease are considered the most dangerous. Its symptoms are reduced to the appearance of red circles on the skin, headache, skin rash, fatigue, fever. In the absence of treatment, the work of the nervous and cardiovascular systems is disrupted, the joints suffer. In most cases, the disease is successfully treated with antibiotics. The sooner you see a doctor, the less the threat to health.
Specialists of the network of ON Clinic medical centers advise developing a useful habit: after outdoor recreation, go to the bathroom and carefully examine all the attractive places for ticks (scalp, face, area behind the ears, armpits, area under the knees, chest , upper and lower limbs).
After each walk, take a shower and wash your clothes thoroughly. If an insect is found, contact a dermatologist or infectious disease specialist. Removing the insect yourself can increase the risk of infection. For example, due to:
- insufficient disinfection;
- incomplete tick removal;
- low immunity;
- the presence of other infectious diseases or inflammatory processes in the body.
Black Widow Spider
These spiders are also called karakurts – they are the heroes of many films. The most dangerous are the females of these predatory arthropods. Poisonous spiders can bite and pose a threat to human health and life. By nature, they are not aggressive and bite only in self-defense (for example, after accidentally pressing). The widow spider is able to move quickly and attack at the most unexpected moment. Karakurts live mostly in the south of Ukraine (Azov, Black Sea, Kherson region).
Black Widow bites
Spider venom can cause pain shock, increased blood pressure, nausea, vomiting and muscle spasms, as well as a feeling of fear. Redness forms at the site of the bite. Doctors recommend immediately calling an ambulance and reporting a suspicion of a karakurt bite in order to prevent the possible development of hypertension, bronchorrhea, or seizures. Poisonous substances quickly spread throughout the body and can cause irreparable harm to health.
Lice’s favorite place is hair. You can pick them up using a comb, headdress, scarf of an infected person. If your head is itchy, don’t ignore it. Have any family member check your neck, neck, and behind your ears. If you find parasites, try not to scratch your scalp. Wounds contribute to the rapid penetration of the infection into the blood.
How to get rid of lice
To get rid of nits (lice eggs that adults lay on clothes or hair), use lice products according to the instructions and prescribed by a dermatologist (lotions, shampoos, creams) . During the treatment of pediculosis, you need to keep clothes, underwear, bedding, hygiene items clean. For those who are not infected, it is important to be careful in dealing with infected people and take preventive measures:
- observe the rules of personal hygiene;
- use only your belongings and do not lend them to the infected person for temporary use;
- Vacuum blankets, pillows, carpets and change bedding daily.
Fleas can annoy not only pets, but also people. They bite painfully, resulting in itchy blisters. Sometimes a person may experience an allergic reaction: swelling and even purulent inflammation on the skin.
Getting rid of parasitic organisms should begin with the purchase of protective equipment for animals. Disinfectants will help reduce discomfort after a bite in a person. Dermatologists advise treating bite sites with disinfectant solutions or ointments purchased at a pharmacy or specialized medical facilities.
To prevent re-infection, take care of the sterility of the pet’s habitat, watch his social circle on walks. First of all, prohibit contact with stray animals.
Bee, wasp, hornet
In case of bee stings, it is important to quickly remove the stinger. But a wasp or a hornet can inflict two or more bites at once – they do not lose their sting at the first bite, so their attack is more dangerous. As a rule, redness and swelling appear at the site of the bite. And only after a while side effects may occur: nausea, headache, weakness.
Treatment of a sting of a bee, wasp, hornet
If there is no allergic reaction, it is enough to pull out the sting (if any), and treat the bite site with an antiseptic and apply cold. If you experience an atypical reaction or if you are bitten in the face, larynx, tongue, genitals, seek medical help immediately. If the incident is ignored, anaphylactic reactions of varying severity can occur, which can even lead to death.
Scabies mite Sarcoptes scabei (Scabies itch) can be picked up by direct contact with an infected person or by sharing common hygiene items. The incubation period of infection ranges from several hours to 1-2 weeks. The bite of the parasite causes severe itching on the skin, often worse at night.
Treatment of scabies
A dermatologist will help get rid of scabies after examining the patient and making a diagnosis. It is advisable to wash the patient’s clothes in hot water, observe the sterility of bedding. At the discretion of the doctor, the patient is prescribed antihistamines to reduce itching. The method of treatment is aimed at the destruction of the pathogen through the use of acaricidal drugs. These are drugs aimed at combating ticks (acaricides are ticks: other Greek ἄκαρι – tick and Latin caedo – I kill).
Bed bugs can be found in the bed linen of hotels. They can even settle in your luggage or on your pet’s things. They become most active at night.
On average, the life expectancy of these bloodsuckers is about a year. They are easy to confuse with other small insects and often their intrusion into your life can be identified by small red blood stains on bedding in the morning. After quenching their thirst, they become clumsy, move slowly, and therefore, during sleep, they are easy to crush with the weight of their body.
Bed bug bites
Red bites on arms or shoulders are bed bug marks. In no case should you comb them (you can bring an infection). As directed by a dermatologist, an effective antihistamine can be used.
Contaminated bedding, decor items, toys or other furniture should be thoroughly cleaned to prevent re-infestation. This can be done in dry cleaning, using heat treatment or special tools. Be sure to ensure the cleanliness of things in the house, refuse to use other people’s bedding and towels.
Flies are everywhere and carry dangerous diseases such as pneumonia and intestinal infections. During epidemics, they are able to carry pathogens over long distances, increasing the focus of infection.
Fly bites are painful and cause redness. The bitten place must be immediately treated with an antiseptic solution, and also not to eat the food and drinks on which the representatives of the Diptera family have landed. Flies, like midges, like to settle near garbage cans and the corpses of dead animals.
You should always save yourself from mosquitoes, because they are carriers of malaria and other diseases. Suitable for this are mosquito repellents, protective clothing, window screens on gazebos, and scented sticks. When using sprays or creams on the skin, be sure to test for an allergic reaction. If available, it is better to choose a remedy with your doctor.
Observations show that some people who are in the same place of mosquitoes are bitten with different force and frequency. This can be explained by the fact that each insect perceives the smell of a person in a different way: for him it is more or less attractive. This is tantamount to susceptibility to bites: some have a strong reaction, others have a weaker one. And this depends on the toxicity of the composition of the saliva of the mosquito that struck.
You can meet these six-legged comrades not only outside the house, but also within it. They can go without food for a long time, they can damage the integrity of products, leather products, books. Cockroaches are omnivorous and can feed on garbage or feces. Many of them move through the sewer, garbage chute or attic. Therefore, their lifestyle can negatively affect any person: threaten gastroenteritis, dysentery or diarrhea.
Certain species of cockroaches, such as yellow cockroaches, may bite (in the neck, crooks of limbs). As a result, a wound appears with a small crust, which can become inflamed. On the paws and abdomen, cockroaches carry many pathogenic microorganisms. When combing the blister, they are able to get inside and parasitize in the human body. Cockroach bites must be treated with an antiseptic.
Make an appointment with a dermatologist at the ON Clinic network of medical centers in your city if you have been bitten by an insect. An experienced doctor will help to effectively and quickly cope with the consequences of any bite.
Enjoy the summer, but be careful!
Dermatology in the Children’s Department in Nikolaev
Children’s department in Nikolaev