Bug bites and stings have been known to transmit insect-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease. Though most reactions to insect bites and stings are mild, some reactions may be life-threatening. Preventing bug bites and stings with insect repellant, wearing the proper protective attire, and not wearing heavily scented perfumes when in grassy, wooded, and brushy areas is key. Read more: Bug Bites and Stings Article
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
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Picture of Bee, Wasp, Hornet, Yellow Jacket Stings
Although many different types of insects in the United States are able to inflict a poisonous bite or sting (meaning they are...
Picture of Dermatitis From Common Carpet Beetle
The common carpet beetle is not common in modern well-sanitized homes, and even where it is abundant, effects from it are not...
Picture of Brown Recluse Spider Bite
Spiders, timid creatures for all their fierce looks, would rather entertain insects in their parlors than attack humans. See a...
Picture of Tick Bite Granuloma
Sometimes at the site of a tick bite, a persistent firm papulonodular lesion may develop. See a picture of Tick Bite Granuloma...
Picture of Fire Ant Stings
Erythematous macules with central pustule formation 24 hours after bites in the same child. See a picture of Fire Ant Stings and...
Picture of Urticaria
This is a close-up view of wheals with white-to-light-pink color centrally and peripheral erythema. See a picture of Urticaria...
Picture of Black Widow Spider Bites
The black widow spider produces a protein venom that affects the victim's nervous system. See a picture of Black Widow Spider...
Picture of Fire Ant Bites
The fire ant sting typically causes red hive-like lesions that burn and itch. See a picture of Fire Ant Bites and learn more...
Picture of Brown Recluse Spider Bites
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IMAGESSee pictures of bug, insect and animal bites and stings that can cause allergic reactions and medical emergencies See Images
Related Disease Conditions
What Do Chiggers Bites Look Like?
Chiggers are a mite belonging to the Trombiculidae family. Chiggers are most commonly found in grassy fields, gardens, parks, forests, and moist areas around lakes or rivers. Contrary to popular belief, chiggers do not burrow into the skin. Chiggers insert a feeding structure into the skin and inject enzymes that destroy host tissue. The chiggers then feed on this dead tissue. The most common symptom of a chigger bite is itching. Treatment generally includes antihistamines and calamine lotion.
Headaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches are considered primary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease. Headache symptoms vary with the headache type. Over-the-counter pain relievers provide short-term relief for most headaches.
The word "rash" means an outbreak of red bumps on the body. The way people use this term, "a rash" can refer to many different skin conditions. The most common of these are scaly patches of skin and red, itchy bumps or patches all over the place.
Hives, also called urticaria, is a raised, itchy area of skin that is usually a sign of an allergic reaction. The allergy may be to food or medications, but usually the cause of the allergy (the allergen) is unknown.
Bee and Wasp Sting
Bees, wasps, and fire ants are related insects that belong to the Hymenoptera order. There are thousands of species of wasps found throughout the world. Common wasps are yellow jackets and hornets. Types of bees include honey bees, the Africanized honey bee (killer bee), and the bumble bee. There are four types of reactions to a bee or wasp sting; local reaction, systemic allergic reaction, toxic reaction, and delayed reaction. Individuals who have a systemic or toxic reaction generally require immediate medical treatment to prevent anaphylactic reaction, and possibly death.
Cellulitis is an acute spreading bacterial infection below the surface of the skin characterized by redness, warmth, inflammation, and pain. The most common cause of cellulitis is the bacteria staph (Staphylococcus aureus).
Fever in Adults and Children
Although a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 F (37 C), in practice, a person is usually not considered to have a significant fever until the temperature is above 100.4 F (38 C). Fever is part of the body's own disease-fighting arsenal; rising body temperatures apparently are capable of killing off many disease-producing organisms.
Ticks are known transmitters of disease to humans and animals. Tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Q fever, tularemia, babesiosis, and Southern tick-associated rash illness. Infected ticks spread disease once they've bitten a host, allowing the pathogens in their saliva and mouth get into the host's skin and blood. Tick bites are typically painless, but the site of the bite may later itch, burn, turn red, and feel painful. Individuals allergic to tick bites may develop a rash, swelling, shortness of breath, numbness, or paralysis. Tick bite treatment involves cleaning and applying antibiotic cream.
Diarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal pain, and the sensation of rectal urgency. Causes of diarrhea include viral, bacterial, or parasite infection, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and drugs. Absorbents and anti-motility medications are used to treat diarrhea.
Itch (Itching or Pruritus)
Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching to include: infection (jock itch, vaginal itch), disease (hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney), reactions to drugs, and skin infestations (pubic or body lice). Treatment for itching varies depending on the cause of the itch.
What Is the Best Treatment for Yellow Jacket Stings?
Wasp or yellow jacket stings can cause severe pain, and sometimes serious allergic reactions. Normally, yellow jackets do not leave a stinger. You can use home remedies like vinegar, honey, baking soda, charcoal, meat tenderizer, salt and other remedies to treat the area that was stung.
Sepsis (blood poisoning) is a potentially deadly infection with signs and symptoms that include elevated heart rate, low or high temperature, rapid breathing and/or a white blood cell count that is too high or too low and has more than 10% band cells. Most cases of sepsis are caused by bacterial infections, and some cases are caused by fungal infections. Treatment requires hospitalization, IV antibiotics, and therapy to treat any organ dysfunction.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often precedes vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms of many conditions. There are numerous cases of nausea and vomiting. Some causes may not require medical treatment, for example, motion sickness, and other causes may require medical treatment by a doctor, for example, heart attack, lung infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Some causes of nausea and vomiting may be life-threatening, for example, heart attack, abdominal obstruction, and cancers. Treatment of nausea and vomiting depends upon the cause.
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. When these allergens come in contact with the body, it causes the immune system to develop an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to it. It is estimated that 50 million North Americans are affected by allergic conditions. The parts of the body that are prone to react to allergies include the eyes, nose, lungs, skin, and stomach. Common allergic disorders include hay fever, asthma, allergic eyes, allergic eczema, hives, and allergic shock.
Spider Bites (Black Widow and Brown Recluse)
Most spiders in the United States are harmless; however, black widow and brown recluse spider bites may need medical treatment. Symptoms of a harmless spider bite generally include pain, redness, and irritation. Signs and symptoms of black widow spider bite include pain immediately, redness, burning, and swelling at the site of the bite. Sometimes the person will feel a pinprick or double fang marks. Brown recluse spider bite symptoms and signs are a mild sting, followed by severe pain and local redness. These symptoms usually develop within eight hours or more after the bite. Black widow and brown recluse spider bites have similar symptoms, for example, nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, and abdominal or joint pain. Generally, brown recluse and black widow spider bites need immediate medical treatment. If you think that you or someone you know has been bitten by a brown recluse or black widow spider, go to your nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Department for medical treatment.
Foreign Objects or Insects in the Ear
Objects or insects in the ear can be placed in the ear by patients themselves or an insect crawling in the ear. Earwax can also cause ear problems if Q-tips are overused to clean the ears. Symptoms of an object in the ear are inflammation and sensitivity, redness, or discharge of pus or blood. When to seek medical care for an object or insect in the ear is included in the article information.
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, and irritability. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. Treatment for anxiety may incorporate medications and psychotherapy.
Necrotizing fasciitis is also known as a flesh-eating bacterial infection, Fournier's gangrene, suppurative fasciitis, and necrotizing cellulitis. The disease is occasionally caused by fungi, but most cases are caused by bacteria that enter the skin through insect bites, cuts, puncture wounds, or surgical incisions. Signs and symptoms include pain, redness, swelling, fever, chills, skin ulceration, bullae formation, black scabs, gas formation, and fluid draining from the site of infection. Treatment involves hospitalization, the use of intravenous antibiotics, and debridement of the necrotic tissue.
The most common cause of a black eye is a trauma injury to the face or head. Most black eyes are minor and heal on their own; however, some may lead to significant injury. In addition to trauma to the face, cosmetic surgery can cause a black eye(s) as a side effect. Learn when to seek immediate medical care for a black eye.
Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that affects a number of different areas of the body at one time, and can be fatal. Causes of anaphylaxis can be food allergy, latex allergy, allergy to insect or but stings/bites, asthma, or other materials or conditions. Symptoms include flushing, itching, hives, anxiety, rapid or irregular pulse. Severe symptoms may be throat and tongue swelling, swallowing, and difficulty breathing. Some disorders appear similar to anaphylaxis such as fainting, panic attacks, blood clots in the lungs, heart attacks, and septic shock. If you think that you may be having an anaphylactic reaction, seek emergency care or call 911 immediately.
What Will Make a Tick Back Out?
The easiest and simplest way to make a tick back out is to detach it manually with tweezers. Grasp the tick firmly with tweezers and pull it out. Visit your doctor right away if you are not able to separate the tick from your body.
Chagas disease is an infection caused by the T. cruzi parasite. Symptoms of Chagas disease include rash, swollen lymph nodes, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and the Romaña sign. An ELISA test is used to diagnose Chagas disease. Treatment depends upon the phase of the disease and the patient's age.
What Is Lyme Disease in Humans?
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness, which is spread by ticks when they bite the skin. Initially the disease affects the skin causing a reddish rash associated with flu-like symptoms. It takes weeks to months after the initial redness of the skin for its effects to spread throughout the body. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. Lyme disease can be prevented by using tick avoidance techniques.
Muscle Pain (Myofascial Pain Syndrome)
Muscle pain (myofascial pain syndrome) is muscle pain in the body's soft tissues due to injury or strain. Symptoms include muscle pain with tender points and fatigue. Treatment usually involves physical therapy, massage therapy, or trigger point injection.
West Nile Virus
West Nile virus (West Nile encephalitis) is a brain infection caused by a virus. People become infected with the virus after they're bitten by a mosquito that has fed off of a bird that's infected with the West Nile virus. Symptoms in humans include fever, headache, rash, body ache, and swollen lymph nodes. Treatment for a West Nile virus infection involves supportive care.
Are Bedbugs Contagious?
Bedbugs are brown wingless insects that feed on human blood. The are typically found around a person's sleeping area. Bedbugs feed a nighttime. A series of bedbug bites may appear like a rash. Eradicating a bedbug infestation will usually require the services of an exterminator.
What Is Hydrocortisone Cream Used For?
Hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid that is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Hydrocortisone can address skin problems, such as eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, insect bites, diaper rash, neurodermatitis and other conditions.
Insect Sting Allergies
The majority of stinging insects in the United States are from bees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and fire ants. Severity of reactions to stings varies greatly. Avoidance and prompt treatment are essential. In selected cases, allergy injection therapy is highly effective.
How Do I Treat Chigger Bites?
Learn what medical treatments can ease your chigger bite symptoms and help you manage this condition.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a tick-borne disease that causes symptoms and signs such as fever, rash, headache, and muscle aches. The antibiotic doxycycline is the standard treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Yellow fever is an infectious disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Side effects are rare with the yellow fever vaccine. Symptoms include fever, chills, back pain, nausea, vomiting, and headache. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms.
How Do You Know if Bites Are From Bed Bugs?
How can you tell if you have bed bug bites? Learn what makes bed bug bites unique and how to treat them.
Are Earwigs Harmful to Humans?
Earwigs are small, winged insects that infest gardens. They are flat brownish pests with scary pincers on their abdomen. They do not feed on human flesh or blood, so they are not dangerous.
Viral Hemorrhagic Fever
Viral hemorrhagic fever(s), or VHFs are a group of illnesses caused by distinct families of viruses. Many of these viruses are life-threatening, and classified as biosafety level four (BSL-4) pathogens. Viral hemorrhagic fever viruses are caused arenaviruses, filoviruses, bunyaviruses, and flaviviruses. The viruses are carried in rodents and transmitted through urine, fecal, saliva, or other body excretions from the infected rodents. Symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever include marked fatigue, dizziness, muscle aches, loss of strength, fever, and exhaustion. Severely ill patients may also suffer shock coma, seizures, delirium, kidney failure, or nervous system malfunction. There is no established cure for viral hemorrhagic fever.
Zika Virus (Zika Fever)
The Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Symptoms and signs of a Zika virus infection include conjunctivitis, headache, joint pain, fever, rash, and muscle aches. Treatment for Zika virus infections aims to alleviate symptoms.
Powassan Virus Disease
Powassan (POW) virus disease is a rare tick-borne disease that causes symptoms such as confusion, memory problems, fever, headache, vomiting, and seizures. POW virus treatment focuses on supportive care that aims to reduce symptoms. There is no medication or cure for POW virus disease.
How Do You Stop Mosquito Bites From Itching?
Mosquito bites can be irritating. Learn what causes the itch and how to stop it.
Sweet Syndrome (Acute Febrile Neutrophilic Dermatosis)
Sweet syndrome (acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis) is a skin condition that sometimes occurs due to an immune system response to RA, pregnancy, certain cancers, inflammatory bowel diseases, blood disorders, respiratory tract infections, and particular medications. Symptoms and signs include characteristic skin lesions that grow and spread into clusters. Sore eyes, high fever, mouth ulcers, headache, and aching joints may accompany the lesions. Though Sweet syndrome may resolve on its own, more severe cases may require medications like corticosteroids.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Red Spots on the Skin
- Penile Pain
- Swollen Eyes
- Bumps on Skin
- Arm Pain
- Hand Pain
- Leg Sores
- Finger Pain
- Swollen Testicles (Testicular Swelling)
- Penile Itching
- Changes in Skin of the Breast
- Swollen Ankles and/or Swollen Feet
- Swollen Lip
- Foot Pain
- Heel Pain
- Hip Pain
- Bug Bites and Stings
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Doctor: Getting the Most from Your Doctor's Appointment
- Insect bites: The Buzz on Summer Stings and Bites
Medications & Supplements
- Penicillin (Antibiotics)
- ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
- amoxicillin (Amoxil, Moxatag, Larotid)
- Over-the-Counter Products
- doxycycline (Vibramycin, Doryx)
- Calamine Lotion (calamine and zinc oxide)
- Artemisia absinthium (Wormwood)
- pramoxine (Itch-X, PrameGel, Orax, Sarna Sensitive, and Others)
- EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector)
- hydrocortisone valerate
Prevention & Wellness
- From Cedar Trees and Grapefruit Rinds Comes a New Bug Repellent
- Health Tip: Recognizing Bedbug Bites
- Insect Stings Are Just a Buzzkill for Most Folks
- Health Tip: Insect Sting First Aid
- Bedbugs Date Back to T. Rex's Time
- Health Tip: Insect Repellent Precautions
- How to Avoid Skin Problems When You Garden
- Animal, Bug Bites a Billion-Dollar Burden
- Health Tip: Identify Bug Bites
- Health Tip: Warmer Weather Triggers Rashes
- Health Tip: Avoiding Lyme Disease
- Health Tip: Using Bug Repellent
- Swatting Teaches Mosquitoes a Lesson They Won't Forget
- Don't Let Bugs Dampen Your Outdoor Fun
- Richer Houses Home to Wider Range of Bugs
- Heating Luggage Sends Bedbugs Packing
- Health Tip: Avoiding Insect Stings
- Average U.S. Home Harbors About 100 Types of Insects, Other Critters
- Health Tip: Coping With Mosquito Bites
- Watch Out for Disease-Carrying Insects This Summer
- Health Tip: Caring for Bug Bites
- Do You Need a Doctor for Bug Bites and Bee Stings?
- Health Tip: Using Insect Repellent
- Stay Out of Stinging Insects' Way This Summer
- Brown Recluse Spider Bites on the Rise, Expert Warns
- Health Tip: Soothing Bug Bites
- Guard Your Kids Against Bug Bites This Summer
- Health Tip: Avoid Bug Bites
- Many Allergic to Fire Ant's Sting Don't Get Preventive Shots
- Health Tip: Defend Against Insect Bites While Traveling Abroad
- Mosquitoes Can Become Desensitized to DEET
- Health Tip: Protect Kids From Mosquito Bites
- Health Tip: Applying Insect Repellent
- CDC Warns of Another Emerging Tick-Borne Threat
- Deadly Black Widow Spider Edged Aside in California
- Over-the-Counter Bug Bite Remedies Don't Work: Report
- Bug Bites May Have Caused Zebras' Stripes
- FDA OKs Test for Dengue Fever
- Bedbugs Biting All Over U.S.