How To Tell The Difference Between Bug Bites

How To Tell The Difference Between Bug Bites

There are many different types of insect and bug bites we may encounter. While most common bug bites are itchy and/or irritating, most are harmless. However, some insects can cause an allergic reaction for some people, and some can cause a lot of pain. Then there are bites, like those from poisonous spiders that need immediate medical attention. Some of these insects and pests can carry and transmit diseases such as the Zika virus, Lyme disease, and Chagas disease.

Because of the various degrees of severity of different bug bites, it’s important to tell the difference and know what you are dealing with. You will want to determine whether you need to seek medical attention or treat the bites at home.

Here are a few of the most common insect bites we deal with and what they look and feel like to help you determine what you should do.

Mosquito Bites

Mosquito bites usually appear as a pink or red, round bump that is extremely itchy, which appears almost immediately. Sometimes, they will have a small dot in the center, and the bump will become red and hard over time. These bites can appear anywhere on the body. The reaction to the bite is usually mild, and the bites are completely gone within a few days. Most of the time, mosquito bites are completely harmless. However, they have been known to carry the Zika virus, West Nile virus, and malaria. If you start to experience fever, body aches, or headache after being bitten by a mosquito, you should seek medical attention. Otherwise, you can wash them with warm water and soap and use topical anti-itch meds to help the pain and itchiness.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bug bites typically start as a swollen, red bump with a darker red center. There are typically several bites in a straight line or zigzag pattern. Over time the bites may blister, or you may experience hives around the site. Bed bug bites typically are found on exposed areas such as the face, arms, legs, and hands. These bites do not always appear right away; sometimes, it can take several days before you notice symptoms. The symptoms of bed bug bites are typically a very itchy or burning sensation on the skin for several days. You want to be careful not to scratch the bite, or you could cause another infection. The good news is that bed bugs have not been shown to transmit diseases when they bite you. The worst thing that usually happens is a mild skin infection around the bite site. Its possible symptoms could be worse if you are allergic, but it is rare. If you are dealing with bed bug bites, they usually go away in one to two weeks using an anti-itch cream or taking an antihistamine.

Spider Bites

It’s usually easiest to identify a spider bite if you actually see the spider that bit you. However, it can take a little while sometimes for you to notice the wound. If you have a spider bite, it could be anywhere on your body and may look like a swollen, red welt. You might also notice a rash, itchiness, pain around the area, muscle pains, or blistering. The majority of spiders are not poisonous, and it is hard for them to puncture our skin with their small, weak fangs, meaning that most bites only cause minor irritation. However, if you notice breathing difficulty, nausea or vomiting, fever, body aches, restlessness, joint pain, or any other serious reactions, you should seek medical attention immediately. These may be symptoms of a poisonous spider such as a brown recluse or black widow. Spider bites can take longer to heal than most other bites, so it’s important to reduce the chances of an infection by keeping the area clean. If you know the spider was not poisonous and the symptoms are mild, you can apply an ice pack on and off, elevate the area, take an antihistamine or apply an antibiotic cream and make sure to keep the area clean.

Tick Bites

Most tick bites are harmless and many times produce no symptoms at all. However, when ticks do bite, they usually try to find warmer, moist areas of the body, such as the groin area, armpits, and hair. Ticks usually stay attached for several days, and this is how most people know they’ve had a tick bite them. When it is engorged, it may finally detach itself and fall off. Some of the symptoms you may experience with a tick bite include pain and swelling, rash, burning sensation, blisters, and possibly difficulty breathing. Although typically harmless, ticks can carry some diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If you experience fever, joint pains, trouble breathing, irregular heartbeat, or fatigue after a tick bite, you should seek medical attention quickly.

Flea Bites

Flea bites are typically tiny, red bumps that can have a small red halo around the center of the bite. These bites typically appear on the ankles and legs but can also be found in the folds of knees and elbows, waist, groin, and armpits. The bites are usually very itchy and may eventually become painful. A few people may experience a rash near the site. You want to avoid scratching, to avoid contracting a separate bacterial infection. Fleas are not typically dangerous to humans. However, they can be very harmful to your family pets. If you notice fleas on your pets, you will want to get them to the vet right away. Typically, fleabites will go away without treating them at all. However, you will need to treat the fleas to stop the bites.

Ant Bites

Ant bites typically cause tiny red, painful bumps. A few different types of ants, such as fire ants, produce venom, leading to an allergic reaction. If a fire ant bites you, you will know it, as they give a sharp stinging pain, then it will burn. The bites from fire ants will sometimes cause tiny, white, puss-filled blisters a day or so after the sting. These bites can last several days and cause scarring. You want to be careful not to scratch the blisters open to avoid infection. Carpenter ants can also cause an excruciating feeling when they bite from the formic acid they spray into the bite. Most ant bites will not cause serious harm. You can use an over-the-counter antihistamine or steroid cream and keep the area clean. If you have an allergic reaction with symptoms such as breathing difficulty, trouble swallowing, nausea, or dizziness, seek medical attention right away.

Treating and Preventing Insect Bites

The best way to prevent insect bites of any kind is to eliminate the source of the problem. Most do-it-yourself pest treatments do not work well, if at all. If you really want to take care of the problem, you will want to call a pest control professional to treat your home to get rid of the pest. A pest control expert will also help establish a treatment plan that will help prevent the problems from recurring.