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Insect Bites (cont.)

Insect Bite Symptoms

The response to a sting or bite from insects or "bugs" is variable and depends on a variety of factors. Most bites and stings result in: 

  • pain,
  • swelling,
  • redness,
  • itching, or
  • blister.

The skin may be broken and become infected. If not treated properly, these local infections may become severe and cause a condition known as cellulitis.

  • You may experience a severe reaction beyond the immediate area of the sting if you are allergic to the bite or sting. This is known as anaphylaxis.
  • Symptoms of a severe reaction include:
    • hives,
    • wheezing,
    • shortness of breath,
    • unconsciousness, and even
    • death within 30 minutes.
  • Stings from large hornets or multiple (hundreds or thousands) bee stings have been reported to cause muscle breakdown and kidney failure and death.
  • Bites from a fire ant typically produce a pustule, or a pimple-like sore, that is extremely itchy and painful.
  • Spider bites like the brown recluse may cause blistering and necrotic skin ulceration while black widow spider bites cause more systemic symptoms such as:
  • Ant bites are usually seen singly or in small clusters and each bite may develop a small central area of pus.

In the past few years, researchers have found that tick bites (from the lone star tick) can generate an allergic response to red meat (beef, pork and venison, for example) and even milk.

These problems may occur from the bite and the antigens that accompany the saliva during the bite or sting. The added problems of pathogen transfer during the bite, sting or feeding process are detailed in separate articles and will only be mentioned briefly in this general article.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Bites, Insect »

Insects comprise the most diverse and numerous class of the animal kingdom, Insecta.

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