Mosquitoes, bedbugs and spiders – just a few of the insects that can inflict bites on humans. In most cases, these bites are harmless and cause little more than minor skin irritation.

Mosquito bites are generally mild, and cause symptoms such as redness, swelling and itching. The bites are generally harmless unless the mosquito is carrying organisms that can cause Malaria or West Nile Virus, both of which can spread viral diseases.

Bedbug bites look similar to mosquito bites, but will often appear in a specific pattern that consists of 3 or 4 bites in a linear row. The symptoms of redness, swelling and itching may not show up until several days after the bite.

Spider bites are less common and are often mistaken for bites caused by other insects. Only a handful of spiders have fangs that are strong enough to pierce the skin. Typically, spider bites are similar in appearance to other insect bites. However, certain types of spiders, such as the black widow and brown recluse carry stronger venom that can cause toxic reactions. Sometimes reactions cause fever, swollen glands and joint pain. In some cases, a life threatening allergic reaction may occur.

Minor insect bites are generally cause symptoms such as:

  • Red inflamed bumps in area where bitten/stung
  • Minor pain and irritation Itchiness

More severe bites may cause:

  • Major Swelling
  • Severe Pain
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

Insect bites and stings often occur as a result an insect being provoked or feeling threatened and defending itself. In other cases, insects such as mosquitoes, bedbugs and fleas bite as a means to feed off the blood.

Although they itch, it’s important to resist the urge to scratch, as this may cause the skin to get further irritated. A traditional way to soothe the itch is to add oatmeal (avena sativa) to your bathwater. Soothing itchy skin will interrupt the cycle of scratching, dryness, worsening of the irritation, and even infection. It’s clinically proven that oatmeal provides protection and temporary relief of itching and irritation caused by insect bites, skin rashes and allergies. After bathing, always gently towel dry and moisturize to reduce any loss of hydration.

When going outdoors you can protect yourself from insect bites by wearing clothing that covers exposed parts of the skin such as the arms and legs. Mosquitoes tend to be most active at night, so it is best to avoid any outdoor activity during this period.

Be careful when eating food outdoors as this can also attract insects. You can also use insect repellant sprays to ward off pesky insects. Look for sprays that contain DEET, which is an active ingredient that works by interfering with the ability of insects to ‘smell’ – sensory receptors on the mosquitoes antennae become unable to locate scents emitted by humans and animals. Be careful with products containing a high concentration (50% or higher) of DEET because overuse or prolonged exposure can result in skin irritation, such as rashes and blisters. Before applying on your kids, make certain the label states that it is safe for use on children because improper or overuse can result in severe side-effects. Children under the age of 12 should not be permitted to self-apply. Once indoors, thoroughly wash the DEET product off with soap and water.

Hydrocortisone and calamine lotion are often recommended by doctors to relieve symptom of itching. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are effective at reducing the symptoms of swelling.