Summertime is always fun, traveling, visiting beach, having campfires and all those stuffs. However, it is almost impossible to avoid bug bites, stings and rashes. Insect bites and stings are common and can be very bothersome and sometimes even dangerous. In this article we’ll try to discuss the most common insect bites and ways to identify and avoid the complications.

Insect bites are not of much concern unless there are multiple stings or stings to head, neck and genital areas which may require prompt management. However, when you are not sure about what insect really bite you or it was due to spider and scorpion stings, you should get prompt medical help. Some scorpion and spiders can be very dangerous, even fatal.

Why do insect bite you?

There is surely a cause why insect bite you. Some insects like ticks, mosquito and chiggers bite you because they are hungry. They pierce the skin and suck the blood. Some insects like bees, hornets, wasps, spiders and scorpion only bite you when they feel threatened. They are just trying to defend themselves by stinging.

What are the most common bites?

The most common bites are that of mosquito bites. Other common bites are bed bugs, tick bites, bees and wasps, stings. Some type of spider bites (black widow and Brown Recluse spider) and scorpion bites are considered as medical emergency.

Mosquito are all around the world and are commonly seen during summer months. Mosquito bites are very common which might not cause any concern to people beside annoying itch , but they can be a carrier of many diseases like malaria, dengue and west Nile virus that can be transmitted from human to human through mosquito bites.

Tick bite

Tick bites are also commonly encountered all around the globe. Tick can also transmit disease like lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Both the diseases are usually common during summer months. The disease can be treated with appropriate medications, but if untreated the disease progress to more chronic conditions and can be very fatal. Early administration of antibiotics and proper management is very important.

Flea bites

Fleas are also very common causes of allergic rashes and wounds. Flea bite causes itchy raised spots with puncture in the center. As it may be very itchy, scratching the area can result in wound or infection. In addition to sucking the blood they can also lead to serious illness acting as a transmitter of life threatening disease like murine typhus, myxomastosis, bubonic plague and tapeworm. However, the risk of contracting such disease is very rare at present day. If you have pets in home, it is better to get rid of all fleas on pets and keep pets out of your beds and room. You may also spray insecticides on the infected areas.

Insect Bites Pictures

Chiggers, commonly known as redbugs, are found in grass, bushes and trees. Chiggers can cause severe itching. Chiggers inject the enzymes into the skin of their host that lead to destruction of the tissue which they feed on.

Bee, wasp stings

Although bees and wasps don’t transmit any diseases, they can cause serious allergic reaction and even life threatening anaphylactic reactions in some people. If it is just a sting, you may remove the stinger and apply ice on the area. For itching pain you may take antihistamines and ibuprofen respectively. If it was several stings on head and neck areas or if you find difficulty breathing or any other symptoms get immediate help, if possible get epinephrine shot immediately.

Fire Ants

Fire ants looks like ordinary ants but their stings can be very painful and sometimes may cause life threatening reaction in case of multiple stings. They don’t really bite you without any reason, but if you disturb them they will attack you. The lesions are usually itchy and burning like pain sometimes associated with painful pus-filled lesion. Antihistamines, icepacks and pain relievers can soothe the discomfort. If it was multiple stings do get immediate medical help.

Black widow spider bite

Female black widow spider is very poisonous. Black widow spider bite has one or two red fang marks and is associated with tenderness, and a nodule at the bite site. Pain may be stabbing and also associated with nausea vomiting, muscle cramps, seizures and increase in blood pressure may occur. Get immediate help if you think it was black widow spider so anti-venom can be administered early. If possible bring the spider with you so it can be identified correctly.

Brown Recluse Spiders bite

Brown recluse spider can also be fatal. Although you may not feel any pain when the spider bites but they can be extremely poisonous. Their bites can cause local tissue death and serious wounds and infection. Initially the bite area is red which then turns white and develop “bull’s-eye” appearance, the area then blisters and becomes very painful. Never delay to seek prompt help from the doctors. If possible bring the spider for identification.

Scorpion sting
Although every scorpion is venomous, certain type of scorpion (that of the Buthidae family) can be very fatal. Life threatening symptoms may include intense, burning pain, numbness and tingling of the whole body, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, blurred vision, slurred speech, difficulty breathing or swallowing and shock. If you develop any of these symptoms get immediate medical help. If you are not sure about the type of scorpion call the emergency immediately and if possible take the scorpion with you for identification.

Management of bites and stings

You should get immediate help if:

  • You develop severe allergic reaction
  • If you have history of previous severe reaction
  • If the stung area is head and neck and with multiple stings
  • If there is difficulty in breathing

If the bite is not severe and you are comfortable with it then you may use the following treatment

  • Apply icepacks or cold compress to the affected areas
  • Apply calamine lotion that will soothe the pain and itch.
  • Apply topical hydrocortisone that will help with the inflammation and soothe the itching.
  • If itching is severe oral antihistamines may be helpful
  • Remove the stinger immediately if was a sting.
  • Wash the area with soap and water

Minor bite and stings are not of concern, but if you have the following, do consult the doctor.

  • If the lesion is infected
  • If there are multiple bites
  • If you have previously developed severe allergy to insect bites
  • If you have been in a malarial area or you have flu-like symptoms