When Do Bug Bites Need Medical Attention?

Bugs and insects are most active when the weather is warm, which means that spring is the time to start protecting yourself from flying pests. With environmental control, bug-repellant clothing, anti-mosquito sprays, and other preventive measures, you can significantly cut down the discomfort and medical risks associated with insect bites and stings. Still, no insect prevention strategy is infallible, and it’s important to know the appropriate first aid for a bug bite—whether it comes from a mosquito, a bee, a tick, or a wasp. Often, you can treat bug bites and stings at home, but you may need to see a doctor or even go to the emergency room when certain symptoms develop. Let’s take a look at some of the signs that your bug bite needs more than some hydrocortisone cream to heal.

You see a rash develop

Mosquito bites and bee stings can cause notoriously itchy and painful small, red bumps to develop on the skin. These marks are harmless so long as you don’t scratch and irritate the area further, but any other irritation of the skin might need a closer look. Tick bites that are followed by a target-shaped rash or spotty red and black rash, for example, should be brought to the attention of a doctor. When a bug bite causes severe immediate swelling or numbness in an area, this could be the sign of an allergic reaction that requires emergency care.

You have insect allergies

When you have insect allergies, the blooms of spring could have you retreating to the indoors. For many people with insect allergies, reactions are serious, carrying the threat of anaphylactic shock. Carrying an epi-pen for accidental contact is helpful for a quick emergency response, but it’s still essential to go to the ER or urgent care for follow-up treatment. Milder allergic reactions and extreme itching can often be controlled at home with an over-the-counter antihistamine.

You are in a mosquito-prone area

Though mosquito bites are usually nothing more than an annoyance, they can be serious if you live in a climate where mosquitos thrive. In the tropical climate of the Florida coast, for example, mosquitos are a substantial health concern due to the threat of the Zika virus. When traveling to other, less developed nations, mosquito bites may also carry the risk of malaria and dengue fever. Symptoms of these conditions will develop anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after the initial bite, and they may include vomiting, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and a rash at the site of the bite. Any time you experience symptoms of this nature after international travel, it’s always a safe bet to contact a doctor.

When you know you’ll be traveling to an area where mosquito-borne diseases are common, MeMD can help you acquire the vaccines you need to stay healthy. You can also count on us for consultations to replace an urgent care visit when bug bites and stings produce more extreme reactions than minor skin irritation.