SUMMER is here and as we’re all spending more time outside we are also spending more time exposed to insects that leave us with nasty bites and stings.
Unless you catch the culprit in the act it’s hard to know what insect decided that you were their lunch.
Everyone’s immune system responds differently to bites and stings and some people may have more severe reactions than others – especially when it comes to stings from flying insects like bees.
Usually a bite or sting will be mildly itchy and sometimes they can also be a little bit painful, with the area around the bite becoming tender.
If you’re symptoms persist it’s imperative you see a doctor to check that you haven’t been infected and that you aren’t suffering from an insect born disease.
But how do you work out what bit you in the first place?
Here are 11 of the most common bites and stings – along with their culprits.
1. Flea bite
Flea bites are small red bumps that appear in clusters. They are small and often have little red halos around them.
They usually prefer animals but can also go for warm areas like the groin and armpits.
Symptoms: They are usually itchy and will leave red marks.
How to treat: Try not to scratch the area, keep it clean and use antiseptic creams.
2. Tick bite
Ticks like to feed on your blood so it’s usually easy to find them as quite often they will still be attached to the area they have bitten.
They will usually leave a red spot but not all people will have this reaction.
Ticks like warm blood so they will look to feast on the warmer parts of the body like armpits, behind the knees and the groin.
Symptoms: If you have been bitten by a tick then it can usually be quite itchy.
The reaction you have will depend on the type of tick that decided to feast on you.
Lyme disease is one signal as well as other tick-borne illnesses include tularemia and anaplasmosis.
How to treat: Try not to itch the bite. If it gets uncomfortable you can use an ice pack or apply calamine lotion or antiseptic creams to stop the itching.
3. Spider bite
If you see a spider scurrying away or you have two tiny puncture wounds on your skin then it’s most likely a spider bite.
Most spiders only bite when they are provoked and their bites will usually leave your skin red and a bit swollen.
Symptoms: Mild pain is to be expected but if you have been bitten by a black widow or brown recluses then you could experience tremors and nausea.
If you think you’ve been bitten by one of these spiders then you should seek help from a professional.
How to treat: Using an ice pack will help the swelling and if you have been bit on your leg it’s a good idea to keep it elevated.
4. Fly bite
Fly bites are common if you spend a lot of time outside and even more so if you spend time around horses and they can be pretty painful.
Symptoms: They are often raised and will be a little bit itchy but more are innocuous.
How to treat: To help soothe the bite you can apply ice and keep the area clean.
5. Mosquito bite
Mosquitoes like to go for the ankles, knees and the neck. Their bites form bumps that usually go red.
Symptoms: You won’t feel much pain at first but these bites can become very itchy.
If you’re experiencing cold or flu symptoms then you may have contracted a disease as some mosquitoes carry Zika and West Nile viruses
How to treat: You can take an over the counter antihistamines and make sure you keep the area clean.
Top tips for bites and stings
While each bite and sting is different here are some simple steps that will help with any bite or sting.
Emma Blackman, CEO of Science of Skin said wearing long trousers when walking through fields is a great prevention method.
Having been bitten the following can help:
- Remove the sting if it’s still in the skin. Try to scrape it out so you don’t squeeze the area and release more of the venom into the skin.
- Wash the area of the bite with soap and water
- Cover the sting with a cold compress or ice pack for about 15 minutes
- Avoid scratching the bite as this can make it more itchy and swollen and raise the risk of infection
6. Bee sting
Bee stings can be fatal to some and there will usually be a white spot where they have stung.
Sometimes the barbed stinger is left attached and you need to pull this out.
Symptoms: You will have moderate pain which should go away within a few hours.
How to treat: You can use a cold compress to quell the swelling but if you think you’re having an allergic reaction then it’s best to go to A&E.
7. Bed bug bite
These can sometimes look like mosquito bites and appear as small, red, puffy lumps in a cluster of three or more.
They appear on skin that is exposed to your bed covers at night. Bed bugs often linger in your mattress in the corners.
Symptoms: The bites can become itchy and swollen but they don’t spread disease.
How to treat: First you need to get rid of the bed bugs from your home. To do this you need to make sure you wash your bedding often and vacuum any areas around the bed.
You can also scrub the mattress seams to remove their eggs.
You can use over the counter pain relief and antihistamines to stop the itching.
8. Ant bite or sting
These can be a double whammy as some ants can bite and sting. Most will cause pimple-like spots.
Symptoms: If a fire ant has bitten you then it will be painful as they have strong venom, this can take weeks to go away.
How to treat: Ice the sting on and off and elevate the area. You can also take antihistamines.
9. Sand fly bite
Sand fly bites can transmit parasite infections that cause skin lesions and ulcers.
They will appear in small red clusters and can also cause blisters.
Symptoms: They will be painful and itchy.
How to treat: Antihistamines usually help.
10. Chigger bite
These bites are usually invisible to the naked eye and will create tiny little bumps.
Symptoms: You will feel severe discomfort but the mites don’t spread disease and do not burrow in your skin.
How to treat: They usually get better without treatment but if you’re struggling you can use antiseptic creams or calamine lotion.
11. Head lice bite
Head lice leave patches of red, abraded spots on the scalp.
The bites are small but the reaction your body has to them makes them grow.
You can also develop sores due to scratching.
Symptoms: First you might see some eggs that then hatch into lice.
If you feel like something is moving your hair then it’s likely lice crawling.
How to treat: After washing the hair with shampoo and conditioner you need to comb through with a fine comb to remove lice and eggs.
Lice lotion can also be used to prevent them returning.