Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

When to Take a Bug Bite Seriously

May 13, 2015 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
’Tis the season (especially since we seem to have gone straight into summer this year) to spend lots of time outdoors. But keep in mind: we are not alone. It’s a buggy world out there, and some of them can be harmful to us humans.

This is especially true if you are allergic to the bug’s venom, or if the bug is carrying a disease. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, in the United States, it is common to experience bites or stings from mosquitoes, fleas, spiders, bees, wasps and hornets, biting flies, mites, ticks, fire ants, and bedbugs. (Starting to itch just thinking about it.)

“Most but bites and stings can be safely treated at home with topical medication, such as hydrocortisone cream or ointment, or an oral antihistamine to reduce an itch,” said board-certified dermatologist Margaret E. Parsons, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology, University of California, Davis. “Sometimes, however, a bug bite or sting could turn into something serious, particularly if you have been bitten or stung by insects at the same time.”

Dr. Parsons advises going to the emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after a bug bite or sting:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • The sensation that your throat is closing
  • Swollen lips, tongue, or face
  • Chest pain
  • A racing heartbeat that lasts more than a few minutes
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • A headache
  • A red, donut-shaped or target-shaped rash that develops after a tick bite—this could be a   sign of Lyme disease, which should be treated with antibiotics.
  • A fever with a red or black, spotty rash that spreads—this could be a sign of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection carried by ticks, which should be treated immediately.

--Sarah Hagerty

Stay up to date on the latest health, fashion & beauty, and fitness related trends by signing up for our weekly newsletters.