Bed bug bites

Injury and swelling caused by bug bites, sometime results in serious allergic reactions.

Anthropod bugs which have six legs are the dominant bug species available in the current land fauna. The count of this living species is expected to be about five to ten million, which amounts to nearly three-fourths of known animal life.

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Presented below are the different species of bugs, as per their size in numbers, in the descending order:

  • Coleoptera or beetles
  • Lepidoptera, i.e. moths and butterflies
  • Hymenoptera, i.e. bees, ants, wasps
  • Diptera or true flies

Symptoms of bug bites

Some of the signs and symptoms of bug bite are as follows:

  • The response to a bug bite may vary depending on a number of factors. Normally they cause swelling, redness, itching and pain on affected portion. Scratching over the bite area may cause the skin to break and get infected. Infection may lead to severe condition called cellulitis if not treated properly.
  • Allergy to stings may cause anaphylaxis, which refers to the spread of infection beyond the area of bug bite. The allergic reaction can result in severe symptoms such as hives, shortness in breath, wheezing, unconsciousness and even fatality.
  • Bug bite on the tongue may cause swelling of throat and can block air passage, placing the life in danger.
  • Bites of fire ants cause pustules that are very painful and itchy.
  • On occasions, multiple bee stings or bites from big hornets are known to cause kidney failure and muscle loss.

Causes of bug bites

Provocation generally causes the defensive attack of bugs to protect their hives and nests. The bug bite injects venom which consists of protein and other substances on skin of victims causing redness, swelling and allergic reactions.

The Hymenoptera family consists of bees, fire ants, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets. The bug bites of these species cause reactions on those who are allergic to it. The number of deaths caused by these bugs is four times more than those caused by snake bites.

  • The bee loses the entire injection apparatus by the bite and dies in the process, while the wasp can cause multiple bites as it do not lose its injection tool in the process.
  • Fire ants use their mandibles to inject their venom many times.

On the contrary, mosquitoes bites cause no illness except for certain species, that cause malaria and carry West Nile virus, and which pass the ‘vectors’ or the microorganisms through the bug bite.

Other types of bugs, bites, and illnesses include:

  • Protozoan Leishmania carried by sand fly cause Leishmaniasis.
  • Epidemic relapsing fever that is caused by spirochetes, is transmitted by lice bug bite
  • Sleeping sickness and various cattle diseases is widespread in Africa and called as Nagana. It is caused by protozoan trypanosomes which are transmitted by tsetse flies bug bite.
  • Deer fly can cause Tularemia, fleas can cause bubonic plague and lice can cause epidemic typhus rickettsia.
  • Under unsanitary conditions, the common house fly can cause human intestinal infections, such as typhoid and dysentery by contaminating human food.
  • Varieties of mosquitoes cause several viral diseases, such as equine encephalitis, yellow fever and dengue in animals and humans.
  • Bugs such as chiggers and mites cause itching and swelling through the bug bite
  • Ticks bites transmit many illnesses including the Lyme disease.
  • Black window or brown recluse spiders are not considered as bugs but can cause serious bug bites.

Diagnosis of bug bites

  • Physical examination of the skin, respiratory system, cardiovascular system and the oral cavity can be performed by a doctor to measure the effects of bug bites. But the reactions due to bug bite can be diagnosed only from the medical history of the patient.

Bug bites treatment

Treatment for bug bite varies depending on the nature of bite and reaction.

  • If the bug bite has caused only redness and pain, ice can be applied. Affected skin should be cleaned with soap and water which can remove the contaminated particles, if any, left by the bugs. Avoid scratching to save skin from breaking and thereby leading to infection.
  • Over the counter antihistamines such as diphenhydramine cream or pill or thee use of calamine lotion can give relief from itching.
  • For people with severe reaction history to bug bite, the doctor may prescribe an anaphylaxis kit, such as epinephrine injection, tourniquet and antihistamine.
  • To control infection, oral antibiotics are prescribed.
  • For serious cases of bug bite, intravenous fluids and oxygen are given, and the cardiac system is monitored till the symptoms subside.
  • After emergency treatment for five days, antihistamine can be given. Cortisone type steroids may also be prescribed.
  • A desensitization therapy given by an allergist may help prevent severe reaction in future cases of bug bite. Individuals who are sensitive to a particular type of venom are desensitized to it, by administering increased doses of the venom over a period of time.

Prevention of bug bites

One can employ the steps given below for minimum exposure to bug bite:

  • Wear long sleeved shirts and pants and hats.
  • As vector mosquitoes are active during dawn and dusk, avoid outdoor during this period.
  • Applying repellants increase protection of skin. Permethrin content repellents applied on garments destroy bugs.

Pictures of bed bug bites

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