UNDATED – Don’t let pesky bug bites ruin your day with friends and family.
Getting a bug bite can be a creepy experience, especially if you don’t know what tiny creature left you with that red, throbbing welt on your skin. Most bug bites and stings from common insects are harmless and heal quickly.
Some bug bites and stings, like those from fire ants, wasps, hornets, and bees, may cause intense pain or even a serious allergic reaction. Others, like poisonous spider bites, require immediate emergency medical care.
Symptoms of bug bites provide clues to the cause and severity. For example, most bug bites cause red bumps with pain, itching, or burning. Some bug bites also feature blisters or welts.
Here are some common bug bite clues:
- Bedbugs leave a small bite mark on the skin that is red and itchy or in rare cases causes a serious allergic reaction.
- Beestings cause a red skin bump with white around it.
- Flea bites leave an itchy welt on the skin, often on the ankles and legs.
- Mosquitoes leave a raised, itchy pink skin bump or in rare cases a severe allergic reaction.
- Spider bites cause minor symptoms like red skin, swelling, and pain at the site or very serious symptoms that need emergency care.
- Ticks can carry Lyme disease, and their bite leaves a rash that looks like an expanding bull’s-eye.
How can you prevent bug bites? Here are some tips from the CDC:
- Use an insect repellent that’s been registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (The EPA has published an online tool to help you determine which one is appropriate in many varying conditions.)
- When traveling, find out what shots or medicines you may need and any precautions you can take.
- Wear clothing that covers the skin.
No matter what type of bug bite you have, it is good to know what bit you. Learning to identify a bug bite by how it looks and feels will help you know whether to treat the bug bite at home or seek immediate medical care.
If you have known allergies to bug bites, talk with your physician about emergency care. Some people with severe allergies to bug bites need to have allergy medicine, including epinephrine (such as an EpiPen), with them always.