Treating insect bites
Insects can be everywhere, and can be annoying. But, they can become a bane on your life when they start biting you, whenever you are asleep or otherwise. Fortunately, not many insects that are found around human settlements, cause severe health complications from their bites, except a few. Skin rashes caused by most insect bites are red, painful, and itchy. Taking notice of other signs that occur besides the rash, may help you identify the insect that is troubling you.

The following outlines the symptoms caused by insect bites, their possible effects on health, and a few self-care treatment measures to manage the symptoms.

Bedbug Bite

• Bedbugs leave bites on the skin, often in straight lines or in clusters.

• A skin rash or slightly swollen, itchy or irritating red bumps, may develop in the bitten area, one to several days later.

• If the rash or the itchy bumps continue to spread, it means that the person is still being bitten by bedbugs.

• The bitten site may stay swollen for a few days, and gradually fade away.

• Not everyone bitten by bedbugs develops the above symptoms, and most people do not experience severe reactions. Some people, however, may develop a skin rash of fluid-filled blisters, which are more serious.

• Areas of the face, neck, hand or arm are the common sites where bedbugs perch to feed on blood.

Mosquito Bite

• Mostly, a mosquito bite is harmless and merely an itchy annoyance. However, a skin rash caused by the same, may be a type of severe reaction.

• The rash is similar to blisters or bruises, with redness and itching around the bitten areas.

• People who suffer from uncommon, large areas of swelling are diagnosed with "Skeeter Syndrome" - an allergic reaction.

• Other rare allergic reactions from a mosquito bite, include anaphylaxis, hives or swelling.

Chigger Bite

• You may not know you were bitten by a chigger, until you notice an itchy, red skin rash after about 12 - 24 hours.

• Chigger bites are usually painless, and not easily noticeable. However, lesions caused by the bite can be extremely itchy.

Tick Bite

• If you like spending time outdoors, especially places with tall grasses and plants, and you notice an unexplained rash on your body, then the odds are, you have been bitten by a disease-carrying tick.

• Skin rash associated with a tick bite may indicate bacterial infections such as Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

• If your rash appears as a circular patch, and resembles a bull's eye, then the infection could be Lyme disease or STARI. The rash begins at the bittern site, and is usually warm and painless.

• The rash caused by Rocky Mountain spotted fever does not itch and is painless. It occurs in the form of small, red flat spots, that appears on the wrists and ankles first, before spreading to the palms, ankles, soles, and the trunk.

• Common symptoms that may accompany a tick bite rash are fever, headache, and fatigue.

Flea Bite

• Rash from a flea bite appears as small itchy bumps that may or may not bleed. These swollen itchy spots have a single puncture mark in the center.

• The rash is inflamed and appears in clusters or lines of two bites.

• The itching and inflammation may continue for several weeks before they subside.

Spider Bite

• There are rare cases of spider bites in the US, and moreover, most of these insects are harmless, except the black widow and brown recluse spider. It is usually the bite of a brown recluse spider that causes a rash around the bitten area.

• A brown recluse spider bite is extremely poisonous, and it may be painless or cause a mild stinging sensation, in the beginning. That is why, most victims do not feel its bite. The symptoms start with local redness, formation of blisters, red rash in the form of a bull's eye, and pain. With time, a deep ulcer may develop in the bitten area, that may take six to eight weeks to heal.

• Besides the rash, the bite may also cause symptoms such as a mild fever, listlessness, nausea, elevated blood pressure, and joint pain.

Bee Sting

• A sting from a bee can trigger severe allergic reaction in people who are allergic to the toxin injected by the stinger.

• A skin rash caused by a bee sting may indicate a normal or mild reaction, or it may also indicate a severe allergic reaction. That is why, it is important to take notice of the other symptoms that occur besides the skin rash, after having stung by a bee.

• A rash around the sting site, with just pain and swelling is most likely a normal reaction.

• If the rash is accompanied by swelling over a large area, then it is a case of a localized swelling; mostly, it is not serious.

• You can suspect a severe allergic reaction from a bee sting when it triggers symptoms such as a red, itchy skin rash (hives), accompanied by rapid pulse, dizziness, swollen face or throat, difficulty swallowing or breathing.

• The above symptoms could also be caused by the sting of insects such as wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets.

Fire Ant Sting

• A skin rash caused by a fire ant sting, may occur in the form of red, pus-filled blisters. The blisters will usually have a white tip, similar to a boil.

• The blisters may be painful, have a burning sensation and itch. There may also be swelling at the sting site.

Caterpillar Sting

• Rash caused by a caterpillar sting occurs within hours after the insect has made contact with the skin. Not only the area stung by the insect may develop a rash, but other non-contacted areas may also develop the same. This usually occurs when the hair (that contain chemicals that irritate the skin) of the insect becomes airborne.

• A caterpillar sting usually triggers an itchy rash on areas such as the abdomen, chest, back, arms, and legs.

• In the US, the puss caterpillar is the most poisonous of all caterpillars. Its sting may trigger bouts of symptoms which include skin rash, fever, cramps, and vomiting.

Head Lice Bite

• If you have intense itching and irritation of the scalp, coupled with a skin rash on the nape of your neck, then you are certainly having a head lice problem.

• Head lice do not carry any illnesses, and so they do not lead to serious problems. However, intense lice infestation can cause severe scratching of the scalp, which in turn, may lead to secondary bacterial infections.

Self-Care Treatment Measures

One simple home remedy for soothing pain and irritation from an insect bite or sting is applying ice. Icing the bitten area helps reduce itching and any inflammation.

Calamine-based lotions also help ease itching and swelling.

Make a thick paste of baking soda and water, or a solution of meat tenderizer and water, and apply it on the bitten area to treat the rash.

Another simple self-care treatment for insect bite rash is dabbing the bitten area with quick lime. It keeps the rash from spreading any further, and reduces itching and irritation.

Early treatment for insect bite rashes is the only way to prevent severe infections, widespread swelling, and intense pain. Do not let the bite stay as it is, hoping that it will subside by itself. If the symptoms persist, worsen, or even concern you, get medical help at the earliest.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.