Bug Bites - Western SummaryWestern Medicine Summary

Western Medicine

Western Summary

Most bugs bites resolve after several days without treatment, but some may transmit bacteria, viruses, and parasites, potentially resulting in serious illnesses.

Symptoms

Bug bites are red itchy bumps that appear on the skin. Many times they will have a central darker area known as a punctum. Bug bites often lead to redness, swelling, itching, and pain. A sting or bite can also cause a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, but this is quite rare.

Causes

In common bug bites and stings, the bug injects a venom or other foreign substance into the skin, causing an inflammatory and allergic reaction. This, in turn, causes itching, swelling. and redness. Sometimes the insect bite can become infected, especially when the skin is broken from repeated scratching.

Treatments

Most bug bites resolve on their own without treatment after 7-14 days. Some medications may help relieve the symptoms and help the bug bite resolve more quickly.  

Topical Medications

  • Topical steroids help with redness, swelling, and itching
  • Calamine and menthol-containing lotions relieve itching
  • Topical antibiotics for when bug bites are infected

Oral/Systemic Medications

  • Oral anti-histamines to help with redness, swelling, and itching
  • Systemic epinephrine and other rescue medications in case of anaphylaxis
  • Oral antibiotics for infected bug bites