Insect bites and stings are a common feature of the everyday human life. Insect bites can result in swelling, redness and itchiness in the affected area. On occasions, insect bites can result in severe allergic reactions that include breathing problems, hives, etc.
Some of the species of insects that are largest in number include flies, bees, beetles, moths, ants, butterflies and wasps.
Symptoms of insect bites
An insect bite or sting can result in many different symptoms and their appearance is dependent on a number of different factors.
- Most insect bites can cause the universal signs of pain, redness, swelling, and increased itching of the site affected by the insect bite.
- Scratching of the affected area can result in breaking of the skin, which can increase the risk to secondary infection. Such infections need to be promptly and effectively treated, else can lead to development of serious conditions such as cellulitis
- The presence of an allergy towards insect bites and bee stings in the victims can result in severe allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis in them. Such allergic reactions can result in symptoms such as wheezing, hives, breathlessness, unconsciousness and even fatalities within a period of 30 minutes
- An insect bite on the tongue can result in swelling of the throat leading to respiratory blockage and eventual death
- In rare cases, thousands of bee stings or insect bites from large hornets have reportedly led to kidney failure and breakdown of the muscles.
- Insect bites caused due to a fire any can result in the development of a pustule that causes considerable pain and itchiness
Insect Bite Identification and swelling
- Insects are generally harmless beings and most insect bites are caused when the insects are disturbed or provoked. Insect bites are generally considered to be a form of self defense. Insect bites occur as a way to protect the nests and hives.
- An insect bite results in the release of poison into the human body. The poison may contain certain proteins that can lead to allergic reactions in the victim. The site of an insect bite may experience swelling and increased redness.
- Fire ants, bees, hornets, wasps and yellow jackets are insects that belong to the Hymenoptera family. Insect bites from these species can lead to the development of severe allergic reaction in people who are allergic to their stings. It may be noted that the percentage of deaths due to bee stings is greater than that caused by snake bites.
- The manner of causing the insect bite varies among the wasps, bees and fire ants.
- The insect bite of a bee leads to the complete loss of the stinger or the skin puncture apparatus and eventually results in the death of the bee.
- On the other hand, wasps retain their stingers and hence can cause multiple insect bites on the victim
- The jaws or the mandibles are used by the fire ants to inject poison into the victim. During the insect bite, the fire ants also rotate their bodies. They have the capability to inject the poison several times over.
- Other insects such as mosquitoes do not carry any poison and hence their bites are often quite harmless. However, if the mosquitoes are active carriers of various bacteria and other organisms, then their insect bite can result in the development of several diseases in the victim. Some of the diseases that can be caused via a mosquito bite include malaria, West Nile virus disease, encephalitis, dengue fever, yellow fever, etc.
- Some of the other types of insect bites can result in the following:
- A few species of lice are carriers of spirochetes and their bites can result in epidemic relapsing fever
- Tsetse flies are carriers of the protozoan trypanosomes. The insect bites caused by these flies can result in the transfer of this organism which can result in sleeping sickness in human beings and the widespread nagana disease that affects certain groups of cattle in Africa.
- Sand flies can transmit the protozoan Leishmania via their insect bites and result in the development of Leishmaniasis
- When unhygienic conditions are prevalent then the common housefly can cause havoc by contaminating food and leading to the spread of many diseases such as amebic and bacillary dysentery and typhoid, etc. via infection of the human intestine.
- The bites of mites, chiggers and other types of similar insects can result in restricted skin damage accompanied by swelling and itchiness
- Finally, deer fly bites can cause the spread of Tularemia; deer ticks bites can result in Lyme disease; lice bites can cause epidemic typhus rickettsia and flea bites can lead to bubonic plague
Treatment of insect bites
Most insect bites are generally harmless and do not result in any medical complications. However, one must visit a doctor in case of severe allergic reactions to an insect bite. Some treatment methods include:
- Wash the affected site with soap and water. Apply an ice pack to alleviate the itching.
- Painkillers may be taken to reduce the pain
- It is important to visit a doctor after an insect bite for evaluation and medical treatment, if necessary.
Insect bite pictures
Here are insect bite pictures to help you identify how a specific bite looks
This is a spider bite. Read more about what does a spider bite look like
This is a mosquito bite.
These are bed bug bites. Here is more bed bug bite pictures .
This is a wasp sting bite.
This is an example of a chigger bite.