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Insect Bite: Symptoms, Reactions, Aftercare

by Anant Khare 17 Jun 2022

Mosquitoes are the most common insect to bite people, especially in the remote regions of India. Other insects that bite include fleas, ticks, chiggers, flies and ticks. In some areas of the world, such as parts of Africa and Asia, leeches may also be a problem. Bites from biting insects such as bees and wasps can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. These reactions are more likely to occur in children than adults. The risk is more significant for people who have allergies to bee venom or other stinging insects. Bites from bedbugs can cause skin infections and rashes if scratched too much.

Insect bites can be painful and irritating but usually aren't serious health problems unless they become infected or lead to an allergy reaction. Bites may leave minor red marks that fade away within a few days. However, a person might feel pain for several hours after the insect bite (depending on the type). Also, some people may experience itching around their mouth after eating food contaminated with certain parasitic worms such as hookworms or roundworms (roundworm larvae can penetrate the skin).

The most common types of insect bites include:

  • Mosquito (mosquitoes can carry diseases like malaria)
  • Flea (fleas are the most common external parasites of humans)
  • Bed Bug (bed bugs infestations are becoming more common in developed countries)
  • Horse Fly (horse flies feed on blood)
  • Bee/Wasp (bees and wasps are stinging insects)
  • Midge (midges are tiny biting flies)

Mosquito biting on man's hand


Insect bites are common among people. They are usually caused by mosquitoes, fleas, bed bugs, mites and ticks. Insect bites are minor injuries to the skin caused by the mouthparts of certain insects. Insect bites may be more common in some people than others. They can cause symptoms from mild itching to severe allergic reactions. Insect bites can also transmit diseases such as malaria and Lyme disease.
  • Generic symptoms of insect bite allergies:
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Blotchy rashes in different parts of the body
  • Chest pain
  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid heartbeat'
  • Swelling
  • Continuous itching
  • Inflammation
All the symptoms need immediate medication. However, some people might have a stronger reaction that can also lead to severe diseases if neglected for a longer time. For example, an insect bite that develops infection can lead to:
  • Pus inside or around the bite
  • Fever
  • Swollen glands
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Malaria/ Dengue
  • Fever
  • Lower immunity

Risk factors of insect bite:

Insects spread diseases through the saliva they inject into their hosts during feeding or mating activities. Disease-transmitting insects include mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, bedbugs, lice, flies (including houseflies), spiders, mites, cockroaches, ants and wasps. Some insects may carry more than one disease at a time; for example, ticks can transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In addition, mosquitoes can transmit dengue fever and malaria; sand flies transmit leishmaniasis; black flies transmit Colorado tick fever.

Insect bites are expected mainly in remote and forest areas. Most fleabites come from pets, crowded communities, or birds' nests. Going into a house that hasn't been used for a while can activate dormant fleas. Bedbugs like to be in old houses, furniture, mattresses, and clothing. They are more likely in low-income properties and hotels. Some people get tick and mice bites more quickly because of their job, whereas others get them when travelling or camping.

First aid for insect bites and stings:

  • Remove the sting or tick if it's stuck in the skin
  • Apply any cold compress for a minimum of 10 minutes; for example, ice pack, flannel or a towel dipped in cold water
  • Avoid scratching the area
  • Don't burst any blisters
  • Don't apply vinegar, bicarbonate of soda or vinegar
  • If possible, try to use a plant-based after bite balm, for example: TheBetterHome’s natural balm that’s entirely toxic free and contains no harsh chemicals.

How to remove a sting?

If you're stung by an insect with barbed stinging hairs on its abdomen, don't try to pull them out. They'll break off and remain embedded in your skin, releasing more venom and increasing your pain and irritation.

Rinse the affected area with soap and water after removing the stinger and scraping out any remaining venom. Cooling down the affected area will help reduce swelling and pain – place an ice pack wrapped in a towel on top of the sting for 10 minutes (you might want to do this several times over several hours). There are also treatments available from pharmacies which contain antihistamines, painkillers and other medications that can take away some of the pain from stings; consult your pharmacist for advice about which ones would be most suitable for you.

How to prevent insect bites:

Spraying Mosquito Repellent on Man's Hand

Use natural mosquito repellant: Mosquito repellants can prevent harmful insect bites and damage your skin health. So, it's always better to use natural insect repellants. Most of the plant-based mosquito repellant consists of Lemon Eucalyptus oil that distracts the insects, for example TheBetterHome’s plant-based mosquito repellant. Also, it is toxic-free and consists of no harmful chemicals.

Wear proper clothing: This is applicable, especially if you travel to a forest region or camp in the mountains. The mesmerizing hills are home to many harmful insects, so try to cover your hands and feet properly. Also, try to cover your ears while sleeping and don't sleep directly on the grass. Instead, use a sleeping bag or a thick mattress.

Use a bednet: Sleeping under the stars is the best therapy, but everything comes with a bane and a boon. Sleeping outdoors also risks harmful insect bites, so use a portable and folding bednet while sleeping.
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