Allergies to Summer Insect Bites

Summertime means more time spent outside. Whether you’re in the water, on a hiking trail, or taking a walk in your neighborhood, one thing is certain: you will encounter bugs.

There’s nothing more annoying in the summer than having a really itchy, swollen mosquito bite, but what about something more serious? Most insect bites and stings cause only slight discomfort, but some encounters can be poisonous, especially if you have severe allergies to a specific insect venom.

So, how do you know when a bug bite is more than just a nuisance and requires medical attention?

Reactions to Stings and Bites

Many different types of insects have the potential to bite or sting you, including:

  • Mosquitos
  • Flies
  • Spiders
  • Yellow jackets, hornets, and honey bees
  • Wasps
  • Fire ants

When a bug stings or bites you, its venom enters your body and your immune system responds. Typically, the least-serious symptoms of a bite include swelling, redness, and itchy skin around the affected area.

When a bug bites you, it makes a small break in your skin, allowing for bacteria to enter the small puncture points. Aggressive scratching can also cause the skin to open up.

Once the bacteria enters the bug bite, an infection may develop called cellulitis. The typical symptoms of cellulitis include pain and tenderness at the site of the bite, swelling, and redness.  If left untreated, your infection will begin to puss, and may result in a flu-like sickness. 

When it’s Time to Go to the Doctor

You should treat a minor bite or sting by covering the area with an ice pack to reduce any swelling, followed by applying hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. Peppermint oil is also great at reducing any itching related to your bug bites if used in small doses.

If you notice a rash, infection, pain in your muscles near the affected area, or you experience flu-like symptoms days after you’ve been bitten, you should see your doctor immediately. Your doctor can test you for infections or diseases that you could have possibly contracted from the insect that bit you.

A bite can turn more serious if you’re allergic to an insect’s venom —  a condition called anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis often starts with an itching swelling rash called urticaria, or hives. It can quickly spread to the face, lips, and throat causing shortness of breath. This is a medical emergency and can occur in a few short minutes.  If you do have a severe reaction to a bug bite or sting, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Certain species of spiders (including black widows or brown recluses) can be extremely poisonous to humans; and even if your symptoms seem minor, you should always seek emergency medical treatment for these types of bites.

If you are suffering from symptoms related to an insect bite, please come into Urgentology Care right away. Urgentology is an innovative and friendly urgent care in Arlington and we welcome you and your family to come visit our expert medical team for non-emergency situations. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment ahead of time, contact us today. Walk-ins are of course always welcome.

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