How to Know if You’re Having an Allergic Reaction to Bug Bites

How to Know if You’re Having an Allergic Reaction to Bug BitesBug bites are itchy, annoying and can turn worrisome if signs of an allergic reaction develop. As many as 2 million Americans are allergic to venom from stinging bugs. Allergies can be mild and cause slight discomfort and itching, or turn more serious and require medical attention.

There are three types of reactions to bug bites:

1. A normal reaction causes some redness, swelling, and pain at the site of the bite.

2. A large local reaction causes redness, swelling and pain that extends beyond the bite. For instance, if you get stung on your ankle and your entire calf swells up. This type of reaction generally peaks at the 48-hour mark and gets better within 5 to 10 days.

3. An allergic reaction occurs, this is the most serious and requires treatment.

How Do You Know if You’re Having an Allergic Reaction to a Bug Bite?

Allergic reactions vary in severity, from mild to more dangerous.

Symptoms of mild allergic reactions to bug bites include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Puss-filled bumps
  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Itching

Severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic reaction) to bug bites is rare and may require a trip to the emergency room.

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Red, itchy rash or hives that spread out from the bite wound
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling restless or anxious
  • Irregularly fast pulse
  • Dizzy or drop in blood pressure
  • Swelling of the mouth, throat, or face

Can a Bug Bite Kill You?

Mosquitos are responsible for more deaths than murderers, sharks and snakes combined! In fact, the diseases carried by mosquitos and transmitted to humans account for 725,000 deaths per year. Mosquitos aren’t the real culprit though, instead it’s the diseases they carry, such as malaria. Most mosquito-related deaths occur in other parts of the world.

In the US, bee stings cause the greatest number of deaths, accounting for 53 deaths per year. The black widow and brown recluse spiders kill 6.5 people each year. Rattlesnakes account for 5.5 deaths per year, and scorpions and centipedes cause 1 death every other year. Usually, death occurs because the victim does not receive medical attention in time.

What Type of Big Bit You?

Any time I find a bug bite on my body I want to know who the responsible culprit is. The following list offers a more in-depth look at the most common bug bites and the symptoms they typically cause.

Mosquito Bites

Mosquitos leave behind round, swollen bumps that appear at the time you are bit; bumps quickly turn hard, red and swollen.

Fly Bites

Sand flies thrive in tropical climates. Their bite causes painful red bumps and blisters.

Flea Bites

Most commonly found on lower legs and feet, flea bites leave behind itchy red bumps surrounded by a red halo.

Tick Bites

Tick bites cause painful swelling, blisters and rash. They can also cause difficulty breathing and a burning sensation. The tick remains attached to the bite for a long time as it sucks your blood.

Bed Bugs

Bed bug bites are identified by a red and swollen appearance with a dark red center, bumps often turn into blisters or hives. Bites often appear grouped together or in a line.

Spider Bites

Spiders leave behind blisters that can burst into deep ulcers. You’ll often see two puncture marks in the skin where swelling, pain, and itching persists. They can also cause a red or purple blister or rash at the site, as well as stomach cramps, muscle pain, sweating or headache.

Chigger Bites

Chiggers typically bite in between folds of skin or where clothing fits tightly. Their bites appear as itchy blisters, welts or hives clumped together in groups.

Fire Ant

Bites are usually spread throughout the area, and appear as swollen red bumps that turn into blisters. The stinging, itching, and pain can last up to a week.

How Long Should a Bug Bite Last?

The average bug bite heals within 1 to 2 weeks—usually closer to 1 week. If you experience an allergic reaction to a bite, it may take closer to 3 weeks to completely heal.

Why Do Bug Bites Itch?

Bug bites itch because you are allergic to the saliva or venom the bug released into your body. Mosquitoes, for instance, pump saliva into your body as they consume blood. If you’re allergic to the makeup of mosquito saliva, it’ll result in itchy bumps and hives at the site of the bite. If a spider deposits venom into your body, the immune system responds with swelling and redness before later turning itchy or sore. Taking an antihistamine as well as applying ice and topical treatments can help reduce itching and discomfort.

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