What’s Bugging You?

Dr. Steve Salvatore April 17, 2018

Warm weather is on the way and so are a wide variety of insects that bite, itch, sting – and worse.

The good news is that most bug bites are merely a nuisance. Some bites, however, can be a bit more serious and transmit diseases – like Lyme disease from ticks and West Nile and Zika virus from mosquitoes.

So, how do you know if that bug bite you might receive would be something to ignore, something to be more concerned about, or even a bug bite at all?

Here are some clues to help identify bug bites and what to do:

Bee stings

Bee stings are, of course, quite painful and cause a red skin bump with white around it. If you experience more severe symptoms such as hives, difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness or vomiting, seek immediate medical attention.

Bee sting

Spider bites

Spider bites cause minor symptoms like red skin, swelling, and pain at the site, or very serious symptoms that need emergency care.

Bee stings

Mosquito bites
  • Mosquitoes leave a raised, itchy pink skin bump, and in very rare cases, can transmit viruses. For the most part though, you can rest easy. Just resist the urge to scratch or use topical medications to reduce the itch and help avoid infections from scratching.

mosquito bites

Photo credit: Medical News Today

Bed bug bites
  • Whenever possible, don’t let the bed bugs bite. If you suspect a bed bug infestation, be sure to have it treated by a qualified exterminator. Bed bugs leave a small bite mark on the skin that is red and itchy, but it can also cause a serious allergic reaction.

bedbug bites

Tick bites
  • And perhaps the most important bug bite symptoms to be aware of – especially if you live in the Northeast – are tick bite infection symptoms. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, and their bite leaves a rash that looks like an expanding bullseye. For 20-to-30 percent of people who get bitten, infected tick bites leave no visible traces at all. They simply progress to Lyme disease symptoms.

Tick bite

Other possible causes
  • What about that mysterious rash that you may assume is a bug bite but isn’t a bug bite at all? It could be an airborne or food allergy, heat rash or something more insidious. Bottom line: If you can’t trace it to a bite from a relatively harmless insect species and it persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, check it out. Or rather, get it checked out at your local STAT Health.

Final advice? If you know you are allergic to bee or wasp stings and you’re going out to play, don’t play around. Always keep an EpiPen handy!

If you have any questions about bug bites, or health in general, visit one of our locations today!