Bug bites: When to seek medical care

There are various types of insect bites and stings we commonly see in our urgent care centers including mosquitos, bees, spiders, bed bugs and ticks. It is often hard to decipher the culprit, however, if you know when to seek medical care you are one step closer to success! Not every bee sting requires a doctor’s visit, but not every pink papule can be overlooked.

What types of reactions, bites, and stings require evaluation from a healthcare provider?

: any insect bite that results in hives, major swelling, difficulty breathing, nausea & vomiting requires emergent intervention. Usually your medical provider will give you an antihistamine and sometimes a steroid and epinephrine.

: Occasionally insect bites may become infected.  Signs of infection include redness, warmth, swelling, red streaking around the bite, fever, chills, drainage from the bite and/or pain. If you have any concerns about infection or the infection is not getting better, you should see your medical provider immediately as this may require intervention such as antibiotics and close monitoring.

: Necrosis is another word for dead tissue. This is a rare occurrence however certain bites, i.e. brown recluse spider bites, may lead to necrosis and require immediate medical intervention. Signs of necrosis include pain, swelling, blisters, fluid collections, black/brown discoloration of the skin, and sensation disturbance/numbness.

: Many of you know about the classic “Bulls-eye lesion” that is associated with Lyme’s Disease. If you are concerned you may have a similar rash, seek medical care as soon as possible so that you can be treated right away. If you are concerned that you may have a tick bite or find a tick on your body, contact your medical provider immediately to determine whether treatment is necessary.

Scabies: Scabies is caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei.  This rash usually has a burrowing appearance. Common body parts involved include the sides and webs of the fingers, wrists, axillae (armpits), areolas (nipples), and genitalia. Please make your healthcare provider aware if you think you have scabies for further instructions.

Bed Bugs: Bed bug bites occur at night in exposed areas. Bites are often hard to see as they are very small and painless. The most common sites include the face, neck, hands and arms.  Please make your healthcare provider aware if you think you have bedbugs and seek further instruction.

Although most insect bites are harmless there are a few key features to watch out for. We recommend wearing insect repellent and checking for ticks after being in endemic areas and remember always err on the side of caution when deciding whether to seek medical care!

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At Urgent Care, we’re open 7 days a week and can evaluate bites, stings, and skin infections.