What’s that bug bite? How to identify common bug bites

What’s that bug bite? How to identify common bug bites from What’s that bug bite? How to identify common bug bites

What’s that bug bite? How to identify common bug bites

Uh-oh. You’ve been bitten. But by what? You know it itches. You know it’s red and swollen. You know it’s annoying. But what caused that welt on your arm? Different critters will leave different marks on your skin. Here’s a handy guide to help you determine what got you — as well as when it’s just a minor irritation or a potentially big problem (Ack! Bed bugs!).

Bed bugs

Bed bugs

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There are two kinds of people in this world: People who’ve never endured a bed-bug infestation and people who were ready to burn all their stuff and start over. According to the Centers for Disease Control, bed bugs aren’t known to spread disease, but they are extremely annoying and can cause many sleepless nights.

Bed bugs are tricky

Bed bugs are tricky

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The CDC says that when bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents you from realizing you’ve been bitten. The marks that appear a day or more later are similar to bites by a mosquito or a flea -- slightly swollen, red, itchy, irritating. And they sometimes appear in a straight line, which makes them extra creepy.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes

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The classic irritation of summer, mosquito bites are itchy and round and turn red or pink. And they can sometimes be dangerous. Malaria, West Nile and Zika (which can cause birth defects) are just some of the dangerous diseases that mosquitoes spread. The CDC recommends insect repellant, clothing that covers arms and legs, and mosquito netting for people at the highest risk of bites.

Brown recluse spiders

Brown recluse spiders

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Spider bites can also be extremely dangerous. The CDC says the brown recluse is most often found in the South and Midwest. As the name suggests, the brown recluse would rather be left alone; it won’t bite unless you accidentally come in contact with it.

Brown recluse bites

Brown recluse bites

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According to the CDC, these bites cause a stinging sensation, and a small white blister usually forms. But brown recluse bites don’t cause much pain and can sometimes go unnoticed for hours. Seek medical help ASAP for a small child bitten by a brown recluse. See a doctor if you have extreme pain or trouble breathing or if a dark blister forms.

Black widows

Black widows

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Black widows are found throughout the U.S., but are most common in the South and West. A black widow bite will leave two puncture marks. The venom will produce pain at the bite area, pain that can spread to the rest of the body. Symptoms can last for days. If you’ve been bitten, clean the area with soap and water and seek medical attention.

Ticks

Ticks

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Ticks are most active in warmer months and can spread a variety of diseases. A patient with Lyme disease could develop a “bullseye” shaped rash, with a red spot in the center and a red circle surrounding it. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause swelling in the joints and even facial palsy.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

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Rocky Mountain spotted fever is also spread by ticks. It can develop into a splotchy rash a few days after a bite. According to the CDC, most people who get sick will have a fever, headache and rash. It can be deadly if not treated.

Get it out!

Get it out!

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And ticks, of course, can dig into skin and stay there. To remove it, the CDC says use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the surface as possible, then pull upward with steady, even pressure.

Fleas

Fleas

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Fleas don’t just dig into your pets; many varieties feed on humans, too. Fleas are most famous for spreading the plague, which is no longer a primary concern for most Americans, but has occurred in some rural areas in the western U.S. According to Orkin.com, flea bites leave red spots surrounded by red haloes on humans. And they are very itchy.

Bees

Bees

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Many of us have suffered a bee sting. When bees sting, their stinger breaks off in your skin. So you’ll see it. This kills the bee and typically leaves a red welt and some swelling. But for anyone with a severe allergy, a bee sting can be deadly.

Wasps

Wasps

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When a wasp stings, it doesn’t lose its stinger. Look for pain and a red welt at the site.

Lice

Lice

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According to MayoClinic.org, lice bites can leave small areas of blood and crust at the site of the bite. Mayo says bites are most common around the neck, shoulders, armpits, waist and groin, where clothing seams are most likely to touch skin. Lice are most common in crowded, unhygienic situations, such as refugee camps and homeless shelters.

Fire ants

Fire ants

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Fire ants were accidentally brought to the US from Brazil in the 1930s. Since then, they’ve spread far and wide. According to Orkin.com, fire ant stings appear as a reddish lump that becomes a small blister. Once an ant gets its claws into you, it can sting multiple times, pivoting in a circle. Multiple stings may show up in a small, semi-circular pattern.

Mites

Mites

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Mites are tiny creatures that can burrow into your skin and lay eggs; the infestation is known as scabies. According to WebMD.com, the most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching, especially at night; a pimple-like rash; scales or blisters; and sores caused by scratching. The tricky thing is that it can take weeks for the condition to develop. The itching is usually worse for children and elderly people with scabies.

Chiggers

Chiggers

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You can’t see them, but they make their presence known. Chiggers only bite in their larvae stage, when they are too tiny to be seen by the naked eye. Chiggers are common in grassy areas and stay close to the ground, so they are most likely to attack your lower legs. WebMD says expect a red, bumpy rash that make take up to two weeks to heal.

Puss caterpillars

Puss caterpillars

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Puss caterpillars (aka woolly slugs) are the most poisonous caterpillars in the U.S. They are found in Southern states and their poison is hollow spines that can break off in human skin. WebMD says that if you’ve been stung, you can use tape to pull out the spines. Symptoms can include intense pain that comes in waves, a blotchy rash, anxiety and nausea. Call a doctor immediately.

Horse flies

Horse flies

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As the name suggests, horse flies prefer to large animals such as horses or cattle. But they will bite humans. (Actually, only the females will bite. The males don’t bite.) Horse fly bites can be particularly nasty. They are more of a cut than a wound; the mouthparts of a female horse fly dig into flesh in a scissors-like motion. Yikes!

Scorpions

Scorpions

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Despite scorpions’ scary appearance, their sting is rarely life-threatening  -- but small children should get immediate medical care in the event of a sting. According to the Mayo Clinic, stings can cause pain and warmth, but not necessarily redness or swelling. Those who’ve been stung might also report numbness or tingling around the sting.

Tsetse fly

Tsetse fly

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“Sleeping sickness” is spread by tsetse flies in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s curable with medicine, but fatal if left untreated, according to the CDC. Some patients develop a large sore at the site of the bite. Most patients develop fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and enlarged lymph nodes within a week or two. Some develop a rash. Then the parasite invades the central nervous system and eventually causes mental deterioration and other neurologic problems, then death.