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April 7th, 2020

Health symptoms you should never ignore after an insect bite

By Vanessa Chen-Hussey

Insect bites are a familiar nuisance to most people, and usually, only cause brief irritation. Occasionally insect bites can be the start of something more serious, and in these cases, urgent treatment might be required. Below are four symptoms to watch out for after an insect bite.

1.Severe Allergic Reaction

It is normal to have a small swollen area around the site of a bite. However, the NHS recommends that if this area is 10 cm or larger, then you should talk to your GP for advice on treatment. Very rarely, insect bites may trigger a more severe allergic reaction and emergency medical treatment is required in hospital. These symptoms include: difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, mouth or throat, feeling or being sick, fast heart rate, dizziness, difficulty swallowing and loss of consciousness. Call immediately for an ambulance if you or someone else experiences these symptoms.

2. Bull’s Eye Rash

Erythema migrans is a characteristic bull’s eye-shaped rash that appears around the site of a tick bite. This rash is observed in about 80% of patients with Lyme disease. If Lyme disease is diagnosed early and antibiotic treatment given, most patients recover fully. However, once advanced, Lyme disease is hard to treat and can cause problems with the joints, heart and nervous system.

3. Fever

If you experience a fever following exposure to insect bites, particularly if the bites were acquired in the tropics, then you should seek medical help. There are several diseases carried by insects, including malaria, dengue and the Zika virus. So it is important to explain your travel history, in order to make sure you get the right treatment. You may need to give a blood sample for testing.

4. Pus

Insect bites, particularly if they are scratched, can become infected. If this is the case the swelling and redness around the bite will increase, rather than decrease and you may see pus building up at the site of the wound. Contact your GP to get advice and treatment.

If you have been bitten by an insect, remember that most bites are simply just annoying. There may be a small itchy red reaction which will disappear on its own within a few days at most. The most important thing to remember is not to scratch the bite as this can damage the skin and introduce bacteria, leading to infection.