How do you know if an insect bite is dangerous?


Most insect bites are harmless, although there are cases where they can be dangerous.

Fortunately, certain symptoms can warn us against what type of bites we find and when it is necessary to consult a doctor. Get to know them here, as well as different prevention measures.

As its name implies, insect bites are lacerating or stabbing wounds caused by insects, either for self-defense or for the need to feed.

The reaction to the bites will depend largely on the sensitivity of each person, although the most common symptoms that can be experienced are:

  • Pain.
  • Redness
  • Formation of blisters or lumps.
  • Swelling.
  • Inflammation.
  • Irritation.
  • Itch.
  • Accumulation of fluid in the affected area.

Most insect bites usually disappear after a couple of days, without the need for medical attention, so their consequences do not amount to more than simple annoyances.

However, there are exceptions, as in the case of people who are allergic, since these bites can cause reactions that put their lives at risk.

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Another factor to highlight is that although the bite itself does not represent a risk to the health of most people, many insects can transmit different infectious diseases by viruses or bacteria through it.

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Types of bites

The most common bites are usually due to the following insects:

  • Bees and wasps: their bites are usually similar, because they have a similar venom. In both cases, rapid inflammation can occur along with severe pain.
  • Bedbugs– Their bites are usually harmless, although people with sensitivity can develop hives. Experts say that bed bugs are a major public health problem in much of the world, because they can easily be found on sheets and mattresses. Fortunately, they are not known to transmit or spread disease.
  • Ticks: Their bites are usually not painful, although lumps may appear in the affected area. Between three and four weeks after the bite, the symptoms usually disappear. This insect can cause Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia, among other conditions.
  • Mosquitoes– Their bites cause small, itchy bumps, and blisters may develop over time. This insect can transmit different diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, malaria, or Zika.
  • Fleas: their bites can produce hives that after half an hour stop itching. However, in sensitive people the discomfort can last up to a week. This insect can transmit different diseases, such as typhus and Yersinia pestis, better known as the plague.
  • HorsefliesAlthough their bites are not usually painful, they can be accompanied by different symptoms, such as itching, swelling, irritation, and even dizziness and fatigue. Because this insect cuts the skin when it bites, the wound may take longer to heal than other insect bites before. It can transmit tularemia.
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It should be noted that the main insects responsible for biting humans will depend on the region or country. Other factors also play a role, such as constantly working outdoors, having pets, or living in areas with poor hygiene.

How to know if the bite is dangerous

It is difficult to estimate an average number of bites that a person receives per year, but without a doubt most of them will be harmless.

However, specialists advise consulting a doctor as soon as possible if the following symptoms appear after the bite:

  • Heart rhythm disturbances.
  • Pus appearing in or around the bite.
  • Cramps
  • Fainting.
  • Chest pain.
  • Skin rashes that spread to other parts of the body.
  • Fever.
  • Severe swelling or itching
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Vomiting or nausea

What to do to treat the sting

Since in most cases insect bites cause mild reactions, the discomfort will disappear after a few days without the need to treat them.

Using cold compresses on the affected area or antihistamine, sedative, or pain reliever creams can help relieve discomfort.

In the event that the sting causes an allergic reaction, a doctor will determine the best treatment to combat it. Oral steroids or antibiotics are generally used if the bite caused a bacterial infection.

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There are also natural options that in mild cases can alleviate the discomfort caused by bites:

  • Sugar.
  • Onion.
  • Lemon.
  • Honey.
  • Aloe Vera or Aloe Vera.
  • Black tea
  • Vinegar.
  • Remember to wash the bite with soap and water and, although difficult, avoid scratching or squeezing the affected area. This can cause irritation or infection.

    How to prevent bites

    These tips can help you prevent insect bites:

    • Have mosquito nets in the different openings of the house.
    • Cover most of the body when in an area with a lot of foliage (using pants and long sleeves and caps or hats).
    • Avoid wooded areas.
    • Cover garbage cans.
    • Empty containers where water can stagnate, since it provides an ideal environment for the development of insects, especially mosquitoes.
    • Another helpful tool to avoid bites is to use insect repellent. Experts only warn that this should never be used on the face, on babies, or on the hands of children.

      Sources consulted: Comprehensive Natural Medicines Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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