Tips for Identifying Common Insect Bites

Identifying common insect bites can be quite challenging because many insect bites look alike. Use this primer to narrow down what kind of bite you are dealing with. If possible, it's always best to try to capture and keep the insect that bit you to facilitate easier insect identification if you develop health complications. However, it's often difficult to see the insect that bit you, and many times you won't know a bug bit you until long after that little creature is long gone.

Spider Bites
Spider bites can vary depending on the type of spider that bit you. Sometimes you can see the double fang marks or the torn flesh, occasionally you'll just see a little bump. Sometimes spiders will bite multiple times in one small area, but in other instances, you'll just get one bite.

Spider bites usually form a pustule on top of the bite. Household spider bites are usually not painful, but serious spider bites are usually very painful. Watch for a rash around the bite, red streaks coming from the bite, or a bite that turns into a wound or looks like dying flesh that keeps expanding.

Fire Ant Bites
These bites are extremely painful. You will usually get a cluster of bites from a bunch of fire ants at once. The center of the bite is dark red, while the outer ring is pink. The bite is raised and hard and both hurts and itches. Red streaks will shoot out from the bite sight, and you may develop a rash.

Chigger Bites
Chigger bites are usually found in creases of your body: behind your knees, in your groin, in your armpits or around your ankles. They are usually discovered long after the chiggers are gone; bites are usually found in clusters. They are tiny, raised, hard bites that itch terribly. Folklore will tell you chiggers are burrowing under your skin, but they are long gone by the time you realized they've bitten you, and there is no need to pursue radical treatment to get the chiggers out. Focus on soothing the itch with warm baths, ice packs, Benadryl and topical analgesics.

Mosquito Bites
Mosquito bites are large, swollen, soft bites that itch a lot. The bite may turn pink or red if you scratch it.

Flea Bites
Flea bites are often mistaken for a rash because they are so small and occur in clusters. The bites themselves are tiny and very itchy, causing a larger rash.

Tick Bites
Tick bites often go unnoticed because the tick injects a numbing solution into the site when it bites you. A typical tick bite is a single bite that causes a slight rash around the bite site. It is generally not terribly irritating once you remove the tick, but many ticks carry disease, so you will need to watch for concerning symptoms after a tick bite. You may feel nauseated, exhausted, weak, stiff, achy or short of breath. If you develop flu-like symptoms anytime in the week after a tick bite, see your doctor and, if possible, bring the tick along with you.

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