One of the really interesting things about being a physician is the privilege and power patients willingly assign to you. I’ve always found it humorous and disconcerting at the same time. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a room to find a patient’s buttocks or genitalia (prematurely) fully exposed with no modesty, admittedly because they’re in a rush to know what’s wrong. But still… Another example is when patients are bitten by insects. It seems like I always get asked “What bit me, Doc?” Well…I wasn’t there… but ok… Of course, we usually don’t say such things, so many put on the stern doctor face, hem and haw and proceed with some fancy medical jargon. Various insect bites have been discussed in detail previously. Here are links to mosquito-borne diseases, bed bugs and ticks.
Fortunately, most insect bites are harmless, so more often than not, it’s not a big deal. That said, there are clues that give us an educated guess as to what insect might have been involved in stings or bites, and that’s the topic of today’s Straight, No Chaser. For example:
- If your bite hurts, you may have been stung by a bee, wasp or hornet. Fire ant bites also hurt.
- If your bite itches, fleas, mites and mosquitos should come to mind.
- If you get a disease other than just a rash a short period of time after being bitten, a mosquito bite is likely. Mosquito-borne disease have been discussed in this post and include malaria and West Nile disease.
Looking at it from the other direction, here are some tendencies of individual insects and their bites/stings.
Bedbugs: likely in cracks and crevices, furniture and bedding, at night and in the cold
- Bites produce itchy red bumps, usually in a row and occasionally topped by a blister.
Bees and Wasps: likely near flowers and plants, or beaches and near picnic areas
- Stings produce immediate pain and rapid swelling.
- Difficulty breathing and hives/swelling all over one’s body may occur in severe reactions.
Fire Ants: likely in the south near parks, lawns and pastures
- Bites produce immediate pain and burning, followed by swelling with cloudy fluid buildup in the area of bite.
Fleas: likely in home with pets; usually found on rugs or otherwise on the floor
- Bites typically produce small bumps clustered together and tend to be located near the waist and buttocks.
Flies: likely around food, garbage or waste
- Bites produce painful, itchy bumps usually lasting less than a day; small blisters may develop.
Mosquitoes: likely to be found around water; they like your sweat and brightly colored clothing
- Bites tend to sting and itch; they produce a red mound with a tiny puncture mark at the center of the bite site.
Ticks: likely in the woods
- Bites may be hidden on hair and skin, making discovery more difficult.
Remember, most insect bites are harmless, but given the ability to transmit diseases, it’s reasonable to have your concerns addressed. Should your doctor not be available, feel free to contact your personal healthcare consultants at www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com or 844-SMA-TALK. Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.