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Insect Bites

Insect Bites

Insect bite is a condition resulting from being bitten or stung by an insect. Insect bites usually cause small reddish bumps accompanied by itching or pain that can last several hours or several days.

Insect bites are generally harmless and can be treated independently at home. However, in some cases, insect bites can cause infection or a serious allergic reaction that can be fatal. This condition requires fast medical action.

Causes of Insect Bites

Insects are one type of animal known to often bite humans. Some of them will only sting when they feel threatened, such as centipedes or centipedes, while others deliberately bite to feed on human blood. Bites from both types of insects can cause mild to severe conditions.

Some types of insects that bite humans to feed on blood and at the same time spread disease are:


There are several types of ticks that can become intermediaries for the spread of disease, namely:

  • Bubonic plague , with an incubation period of 2–8 days
  • Lyme disease, whose incubation period is 3–30 days


Some types of flies can bite and spread disease. A number of diseases that can be transmitted by flies, namely:

  • Leishmaniasis (a parasitic disease spread by phletobomine flies ), whose incubation period varies widely, but is generally 2–6 months
  • Sleeping sickness caused by the tsetse fly , which has an incubation period of 1–3 weeks


Although generally only cause itching, certain types of mosquito bites can spread serious diseases, such as:

  • Malaria , whose incubation period varies, but is generally 7–30 days
  • Zika virus infection, which has an incubation period of 3–14 days
  • Dengue fever , whose incubation period is 4–10 days

Apart from the several types of insects above, there are also types of insects which, although they do not spread disease, their stings can cause serious allergic reactions , such as:

Fire ants

Fire ants are an aggressive type of ant, especially when they feel their nest is disturbed. These ants can sting several times and incorporate a toxin called solenopsin.


When stinging, bees can leave a sting that contains poison on the skin. If the stinger is not removed immediately, more poison will enter the body and trigger a severe allergic reaction.


Just like bees, wasp stings also contain poison. The difference is that bees generally only sting once, while wasps can sting several times in one attack.

Risk factors for insect bites

Anyone can get an insect bite or sting. However, there are several factors that can increase a person's risk of being bitten or stung by this animal, namely:

  • Lives near wet fields or yards
  • Working or living with animals
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors
  • Live in a hot climate
  • Do not give flea medication to pets
  • Keep insects, such as bees or wasps, as a hobby

Symptoms of Insect Bites

Insect bites or stings generally only cause mild symptoms in the bitten area, such as:

  • Swelling
  • Itchy rash
  • Rash and redness
  • Hot, stiff, or tingling feeling
  • Painful

In some cases, insect bites or stings can cause anaphylactic reactions, which are severe reactions that require medical attention. Symptoms that arise as a result of an anaphylactic reaction can affect the whole body, including:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizzy
  • Faint
  • muscle spasms
  • Heart beat
  • Swelling of the face, lips or throat
  • Difficulty swallowing and speaking
  • dazed
  • Chest pain
  • Hard to breathe

When to see a doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if you experience symptoms that do not improve or even worsen after being bitten or stung by an insect. You also need to see a doctor if you experience some of the following conditions:

  • Bitten or stung in the mouth, throat or near the eyes
  • Bites or stings that cause swelling and redness of the skin
  • There are signs of infection in the wound, such as pus, worsening pain, swelling, and skin redness
  • The infection is increasingly widespread, which can be marked by an increase in body temperature, swollen lymph nodes, and other symptoms similar to flu symptoms

Immediately go to the emergency room or call an ambulance service if someone around you has an anaphylactic reaction as mentioned above. This condition requires prompt treatment because it can be life threatening.

Diagnosis of Insect Bites

To diagnose insect bites, the doctor will first ask the patient about the symptoms experienced and the type of insect that bit. After that, the doctor will examine the skin that was bitten by the insect and the area around it.

If the type of insect that bit the patient can spread the disease, the doctor will do a blood test to detect the disease carried by the insect.

Insect Bites Treatment

As previously mentioned, insect bites often only cause mild symptoms, such as itching, burning and small swelling of the skin. To fix this, do the following independently:

  • Wash the bitten or stung area with soap and water
  • Remove the stinger carefully if there is a bee or wasp sting left in the skin
  • Cold compresses on the bitten area with ice wrapped in a towel or cloth soaked in cold water, to reduce pain and swelling
  • Applying hydrocortisone , calamine, or baking soda ointment , to the bitten area several times a day until symptoms disappear

In general, mild symptoms due to insect bites will disappear within 1-2 days.

If you see someone having a severe reaction after being bitten by an insect, take the following steps while waiting for medical help to arrive:

  • Loosen the victim's clothing
  • Do not give the victim anything to drink
  • Position the victim lying on his left side so as not to choke, if he vomits
  • Perform CPR (artificial respiration) if the victim is not breathing

Insect Bites Complications

Although it rarely happens, insect bites that are not handled properly can cause complications, such as:

Complications from bites

Insect bites can cause secondary bacterial infections if the sufferer scratches the area affected by the bite. Some of these secondary infections are:

  • Impetigo , which is a contagious skin infection that causes blisters
  • Cellulitis, which is an infection that causes skin redness, swelling, and pain
  • Folliculitis , which is inflammation of one or more hair follicles
  • Lymphangitis, which is an infection that causes red streaks in the armpits or groin

Complications due to transmitted diseases

Meanwhile, complications that can occur due to diseases transmitted from insect bites include:

  • Chronic arthritis, widespread skin rashes, memory disturbances, and nervous breakdowns due to Lyme disease
  • Anemia, brain damage, shock and seizures due to malaria
  • Severe bleeding and organ damage due to dengue fever
  • Brain damage, eye damage, and joint disorders due to the Zika virus
  • Inflammation of the heart due to Chagas disease caused by the bite of the Triatomine insect

Complications due to anaphylactic reactions

If not treated immediately, anaphylactic reactions due to insect bites can cause complications, such as:

  • Cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest
  • Brain damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Heart rhythm disturbances ( arrhythmias )
  • Heart attack

Prevention of Insect Bites

The following are some steps that can prevent insect bites from occurring:

  • Keep rooms and furniture in the house clean.
  • Install mosquito nets in the vents and keep the air circulating in the house.
  • Stay away from dangerous insect nests, such as bees or wasps.
  • Don't try to get rid of bee or wasp nests yourself and have a professional exterminator remove them.
  • Avoid going outside at sunrise and sunset as some mosquitoes are active at this time.
  • Remain calm when approached by bees or wasps, as trying to swat them will provoke them to sting.
  • Immediately run into a closed room if you are attacked by swarms of bees.
  • Wear clothes that can protect the whole body, such as long pants and long sleeves, when outdoors or in nature.
  • Use an anti-mosquito lotion with the active ingredient DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or lemon eucalyptus oil when leaving the house.
  • Choose clothes that are clean and brightly colored, but don't use perfume or deodorizers.

Eradicate mosquito nests (PSN) by conducting insecticide fogging ( fogging ) followed by 3M actions, such as closing water reservoirs tightly and draining them regularly, and burying used items that can hold water.

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