A Skin Rash From an Insect Bite, Healthfully

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A Skin Rash From an Insect Bite

A skin rash from an insect bite is an allergic reaction that affects the skin, according to MayoClinic.com 1. It is not uncommon for an insect bite to cause hives, but the severity of the rash can vary from person to person. An insect bite allergy occurs in a person who has a hypersensitivity to the venom of a particular insect, such as wasps or fire ants, according to Penn State University 2. A skin rash from an insect bite should be evaluated by a medical doctor.

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


Hives are an allergic reaction that surfaces on the skin with inflammation, itchiness and redness, according to Penn State University 2. When the venom enters the bloodstream of the person, the immune system attempts to fight it off by unleashing antibodies, which in turn release histamine. Histamine causes the skin to become inflamed and itchy.


Itching and swelling on the surface of the skin are the two most common symptoms of a skin rash from an insect bite, according to Medline Plus 3. As the skin reacts, it develops welts that appear to move, spread, get bigger and join together in a matter of seconds or minutes. The hives can change shape, appear and disappear in a short amount of time. The more someone scratches the welts, the more the hives will spread.


How many times can a mosquito bite?

In your quest to get rid of mosquitoes, it’s important to learn as much as you can about them so as to develop a targeted plan to get rid of them. One of the questions that many people are not sure of is how many times a mosquito can bite.

Typically, it is the female mosquitoes that will bite to get a blood meal, and this is done during the early hours of the night. The number of times they can bite depends on whether they are interrupted or not. If they take a blood meal to their full, chances are that they will not need another meal. They will then rest for two or three days, lay eggs and then start the whole process all over again.

If the mosquito is interrupted while taking the blood meal, it will likely move to another person to bite or simply come back to the same person it had bit before. It will keep doing this until its abdomen is full of blood. It’s usually very easy to spot a mosquito in this state, with a distended abdomen that is red in color.

The fact that the mosquitoes can bite more than once means that if they are infected by parasites such as malaria, one mosquito has the potential to infect more than one person if it keeps getting interrupted when getting its blood meal. This is even more reason why you should put a lot of effort into making sure that they are properly controlled.


How To Tell A Spider Bite Apart From A Mosquito Bite

(Photo: ARMEND NIMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

How do spider bites and mosquito bites differ? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Matan Shelomi, Entomologist, on Quora:

When mosquitoes bite, they make one hole. Some saliva is injected, and then they drink up blood straight from the capillary. The bite can swell and itch, or not be noticed. Some mosquitoes spread rather dangerous diseases, like malaria or dengue fever.

Spiders inject venom from one or two “fangs,” or chelicerae, though the two bitemarks (like a tiny vampire bite) will vanish. It won’t look too different from a mosquito bite, though it will probably hurt more than itch. They do not carry diseases. Some spider bites, like brown recluse bites, are flat or sunken rather than swollen. Some bites may ulcerate, like some recluse bites after a week (no earlier!) but it won’t be as bad as legends say. Most alleged spider bites are not spider bites at all, as spiders only bite in self defense, and necrotic bites are even rarer. A few (very few) spiders have venom that can make you sick, like the American black widow, Australian redback, and Sydney funnel web. If you start to feel dizziness, nausea, sweating, fever, chills, headache, cramps, tiredness, or joint pain after a spider bite and know you live in the habitat of a toxic species, you can look for a doctor, but let them diagnose you. If you say “spider bite,” they’ll be influenced by this and can misdiagnose your mosquito bite or MRSA infection (the leading cause of necrotic skin). Remember that the mosquitoes transmit the dangerous pathogens, not spiders!

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Both bites will be dry. If pus or fluid is coming out, you have a secondary infection from scratching or not keeping the wound clean.

This site has a handy mnemonic on how to tell if it’s not a recluse bite: How to Identify and Treat Symptoms of Spider Bites.

See also:  Best Mosquito Repellents (Must Read Reviews) 2020

This question originally appeared on Quora — the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.


Difference between Bed Bug Bites and Mosquito Bites

Sometimes you wake up and start scratching from an insect bite and you can’t figure out what insect the bite came from. It is important that you find out as soon as possible so that you can take the best course of action, such as visiting a doctor if necessary or calling pest control professionals to handle the insects. Among the most common types are mosquito bites and bed bug bites.


Bed bug bites often look similar to mosquito bites. Bed bug bites are lumps that appear on the skin due to bed bugs that tend to align themselves with where your body comes into contact with the mattress or the edge of a bed sheet. This means that the bites will mostly appear as a line or row on your skin.

Mosquito bite

Mosquito bites are random and isolated lumps on the skin caused by the bite of a female anopheles mosquito, mostly on exposed skin.

Comparison Chart

Bed Bug bites Mosquito bites
Can crawl under clothes and bite the skin that is covered by clothes Can’t bite through clothes
Bites are often aligned as a line or row Bites are often random and isolated
Take time to show and feel itchy Instantly itchy and visible
Self-resolve after a relatively long period of time Self-resolve faster than bed bug bites
Cannot transmit diseases Can transmit diseases such as malaria

Bed Bug Bites vs Mosquito Bites

What is the difference between bed bug bites and mosquito bites? Since they are similar, secondary evidence, such as location and reaction time, is required to distinguish a mosquito bite from a bed bug bite.

  • Mosquito bites tend to be random and isolated on the skin and mostly affect the exposed parts of the body such as the arms, legs and head. Since bed bugs can crawl under clothes, their bites can be found all over the body and often appear in clusters of three or more. Bed bug bites are sometimes aligned as if in a line or row due to the bugs biting the skin where it comes into contact with bedding.
  • When a mosquito bites, it takes a few minutes for its bite to show and feel itchy. A raised and oddly shaped welt with red boundaries forms on the skin. Within a day, the welt turns into a red bump. Mosquito bites disappear faster compared to bed bug bites. Conversely, bed bug bites may take several minutes or hours to show. At first, a flat and red welt is formed that doesn’t itch. With time, the welt turns into an itchy bump.


Most Common Illnesses You Get From Mosquito Bites

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West Nile Virus

Most people who get West Nile virus don’t have any symptoms. About 1 in 5 will have a fever and other flu-like symptoms. Feeling worn out could take months to go away completely. A few people get a more serious infection that causes brain swelling, or meningitis. There’s a very small chance you could die.

People in 48 of the 50 U.S. states, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and West and Central Asia have had West Nile.


Mosquitoes can pass on viruses that cause inflammation around your brain and spinal cord. (The brain swelling with a serious West Nile infection is a kind of encephalitis.)

What type you could get depends on where you are:

  • LaCrosse — the 13 states east of the Mississippi River
  • St. Louis — throughout the U.S., especially Florida and Gulf of Mexico states
  • Eastern Equine — Atlantic, Gulf Coast, and Great Lakes states; the Caribbean; Central and South America
  • Japanese — Asia and the Western Pacific

Your doctor can give you medicine to ease your fever and sore throat. You’ll need emergency care right away for severe symptoms, such as confusion, seizures, and muscle weakness, to prevent brain damage and other complications.

You can get shots to prevent Japanese encephalitis before you travel to the area.

Zika Virus

First found in Africa in the 1940s, this virus has spread to South and Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

Most people don’t know they have Zika. The symptoms are mild and usually run their course in less than a week. You may have a fever, joint or muscle pain, pinkeye, or a rash.

The virus has been linked to more serious problems: cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome and a birth defect called microcephaly.

Guillain-Barre is a nervous system disorder that can cause weakness and paralysis. Most people recover over time.

Microcephaly causes a baby’s head to be small and not fully develop. Babies with this condition may have developmental and intellectual delays and other problems.

There’s no vaccine to prevent the virus. The CDC recommends pregnant women avoid traveling to areas with ongoing Zika infections.


Chikungunya Virus

Found mostly in the Caribbean and South America, chikungunya is now spreading in the U.S. It causes severe pain in your joints that may last several weeks. You’ll need rest and fluids until symptoms go away. Your doctor may suggest pain relief medicine, too.

Dengue Fever

You’ll likely get a sudden high fever and may bleed a little from your nose or gums. It can be very uncomfortable. Rest and treating the symptoms are the only things you can do for dengue.

Some people get a more severe form, known as dengue hemorrhagic fever. If your small blood vessels become leaky and fluid starts to build up in your belly and lungs, you’ll need medical care right away.

Usually people in the U.S. with dengue bring it back with them from warm parts of Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands, Central and South America, and the Caribbean — especially Puerto Rico. In the last 20 years, though, there have been outbreaks in South Texas, Hawaii, and the Florida Keys.

Yellow Fever

You’re not likely to catch yellow fever, because most countries in tropical areas of Africa and the Americas require travelers to get the vaccine for it. Most people that get yellow fever won’t notice anything, but some may feel like they have a mild case of the flu. If you get symptoms, you can relieve them with rest, fluids, and medication, although you could feel weak and tired for several months.


About 15% of people who have mild symptoms will develop severe symptoms after they start feeling better, including a high fever, jaundice (your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow), and bleeding. The disease can make your liver and kidneys fail, and it could be fatal.


The oldest mosquito bite illness causes more than 400,000 deaths worldwide each year. No one has gotten sick from malaria parasites in the U.S. since the early 1950s. But small outbreaks have happened when people who got infected in warm, wet parts of the world came back to the U.S. Countries around the equator in Africa and tropical islands in the Pacific, such as Papua New Guinea, have the most cases of malaria.

You can take drugs to help prevent malaria when you travel. Researchers are working on a vaccine.


Battle the Bite

Many mosquitoes live for 2 to 3 months. Most will die or hibernate when the temperature drops below 50 degrees. In the U.S., mosquito season begins in early spring, peaks in the summer, and ends with the first freeze. In parts of the world with warmer weather, they may be active year-round.

The best way to prevent the illnesses they spread is to avoid mosquito bites.

  • Wear light-colored clothing to cover up.
  • Put mosquito repellent «bug spray» on your bare skin.
  • Get rid of places that water can collect around your home.
  • Keep water in pools and landscaping moving.
  • Use screens on your windows or a mosquito net when sleeping outdoors.


State of Connecticut, Mosquito Management Program: «Mosquitos: Frequently Asked Questions.»

American Mosquito Control Association: «Mosquito-Borne Diseases.»

CDC: «West Nile Virus,» «Eastern Equine Encephalitis,» «Japanese Encephalitis,» «Chikungunya virus,» «Dengue Homepage,» «Yellow Fever,» «Malaria,» «Zika Virus,» «Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,» «Guillain-Barre syndrome and flu vaccine,» «Facts about Microcephaly.»

Wisconsin Division of Public Health: «West Nile Virus Infection.»

Pal, P. Journal of Virology, published online May 14, 2014.

Pan American Health Organization: «Zika virus infection and Zika fever: Frequently asked questions.»

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: «Guillain-Barre Syndrome Fact Sheet.»

The Atlantic: «What to Know About Zika Virus.»


Mosquito Bite

Is this your child’s symptom?

  • Bites from a mosquito
  • Cause itchy, red bumps
  • Often they look like a hive
  • West Nile Virus (WNV) questions are also covered

Types of Reactions to Mosquito Bites

  • Red Bumps. In North America, mosquito bites are mainly an annoyance. They cause itchy red skin bumps. Often, the bite looks like hives (either one large one or several small ones).
  • When a mosquito bites, its secretions are injected into the skin. The red bumps are the body’s reaction to this process.
  • Suspect mosquito bites if there are bites on other parts of the body. Most bites occur on exposed parts such as face and arms.
  • Swelling. Bites of the upper face can cause severe swelling around the eye. This can last for several days. With bites, the swelling can be pink as well as large (especially age 1-5 years).
  • Disease. Rarely, the mosquito can carry a serious blood-borne disease. In the US and Canada, this is mainly West Nile Virus (WNV). In Africa and South America, they also carry malaria and yellow fever.
  • Prevention. Insect repellents can prevent mosquito bites. Use DEET (applied to skin) and permethrin (applied to clothing).

Cause of Mosquito Bite Reaction

  • The skin bumps are the body’s reaction to the mosquito’s saliva.
  • While it’s sucking blood, some of its secretions get mixed in.

Mosquito Life Cycle

  • Only female mosquitoes bite. They need a blood meal to produce eggs. The female may bite 20 times before she finds a small blood vessel. She then sips blood for 90 seconds.
  • Males eat flower nectar and plant juices.
  • 170 species of mosquito are in North America.
  • At a far distance, they are attracted by smell (breath odors, sweat and perfumes). They can smell up to 120 feet (36 meters). At a close distance, they are attracted by body heat and movement.

Risk Factors for Increased Mosquito Bites

  • Warmer body temperature
  • Male more than female
  • Children more than adults
  • Breath odors
  • Sweating
  • Perfumed soaps and shampoos

Complications of Insect Bites

  • Impetigo. A local bacterial infection. Gives sores, soft scabs and pus. Caused by scratching or picking at the bites. More common in itchy bites.
  • Cellulitis. The bacterial infection spreads into the skin. Gives redness spreading out from the bite. The red area is painful to the touch.
  • Lymphangitis. The bacterial infection spreads up the lymph channels. Gives a red line that goes up the arm or leg. More serious because the infection can get into the bloodstream. (This is called sepsis.)

When to Call for Mosquito Bite

Call 911 Now

  • Life-threatening allergic reaction suspected. Symptoms include sudden onset of trouble breathing or swallowing.
  • Can’t wake up
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Spreading red area or streak with fever
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Painful spreading redness started more than 24 hours after the bite. Note: any redness starting in the first 24 hours is a reaction to the bite.
  • More than 48 hours since the bite and redness gets larger
  • Unexplained fever and recent travel outside the country to high risk area
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Contact Doctor During Office Hours

  • Pregnant and recently traveled to or lives in a place with a Zika outbreak
  • Scab that looks infected (drains pus or gets bigger) not better with antibiotic ointment
  • Severe itching not better after 24 hours of using steroid cream
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Normal mosquito bite
  • Questions about West Nile Virus
  • Questions about insect repellents (such as DEET)

Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations

If your child’s illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.

Care Advice

Treatment for Mosquito Bites

  1. What You Should Know About Mosquito Bites:
    • In the United States and Canada, mosquito bites rarely carry any disease.
    • They cause itchy red skin bumps.
    • Most of the time, the bumps are less than ½ inch (12 mm) in size. In young children, they can be larger.
    • Some even have a small water blister in the center.
    • A large hive at the bite does not mean your child has an allergy.
    • The redness does not mean the bite is infected.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Steroid Cream for Itching:
    • To reduce the itching, use 1% hydrocortisone cream (such as Cortaid). No prescription is needed. Put it on 3 times a day until the itch is gone. If you don’t have, use a baking soda paste until you can get some.
    • If neither is available, use ice in a wet washcloth for 20 minutes.
    • Also, you can put firm, sharp, direct, steady pressure on the bite. Do this for 10 seconds to reduce the itch. A fingernail, pen cap, or other object can be used.
  3. Allergy Medicine for Itching:
    • If the bite is still itchy, try an allergy medicine (such as Benadryl). No prescription is needed.
    • Sometimes it helps, especially in allergic children.
  4. Try Not to Scratch:
    • Cut the fingernails short.
    • Help your child not to scratch.
    • Reason: Prevent a skin infection at the bite site.
  5. Antibiotic Ointment:
    • If the bite has a scab and looks infected, use an antibiotic ointment. An example is Polysporin.
    • No prescription is needed. Use 3 times per day. (Note: Usually infection caused by scratching bites with dirty fingers).
    • Cover the scab with a bandage (such as Band-Aid). This will help prevent scratching and spread.
    • Wash the sore and use the antibiotic ointment 3 times per day. Do this until healed.
  6. What to Expect:
    • Most mosquito bites itch for 3 or 4 days.
    • Any pinkness or redness lasts 3 or 4 days.
    • The swelling may last 7 days.
    • Bites of the upper face can cause severe swelling around the eye. This does not hurt the vision and is harmless.
    • The swelling is often worse in the morning after lying down all night. It will improve after standing for a few hours.
  7. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Bite looks infected (redness gets larger after 48 hours)
    • Bite becomes painful
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse
See also:  Useful tips on how to choose flea collar for dogs

West Nile Virus Questions

  1. West Nile Virus (WNV) — What You Should Know:
    • WNV is a disease carried by mosquitoes. It can be spread to humans through a mosquito bite.
    • About 1% of mosquitoes carry WNV.
    • Of people who get WNV, less than 1% get the serious kind.
    • Here are some facts that should help.
  2. Symptoms of WNV:
    • No symptoms: 80% of WNV infections.
    • Mild symptoms: 20% of infections. Symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches. Some have a skin rash. These symptoms last 3-6 days. They go away without any treatment. This is called WNV fever.
    • Serious symptoms: less than 1% (1 out of 150) of WNV infections. Symptoms are high fever, stiff neck, confusion, coma, seizures, and muscle weakness. The muscle weakness is often just on one side. The cause is infection of the brain (encephalitis) or spinal cord (viral meningitis).
    • Death: 10% of those who need to be in the hospital.
    • Child cases are most often mild. Most serious cases occur in people over age 60.
  3. Diagnosis of WNV:
    • Mild symptom cases do not need to see a doctor. They do not need any special tests.
    • Severe symptom cases (with encephalitis or viral meningitis) need to see a doctor right away. Special tests on the blood and spinal fluid will be done to confirm WNV.
    • Pregnant or nursing women need to see a doctor if they have WNV symptoms.
  4. Treatment of WNV:
    • No special treatment is needed after a mosquito bite.
    • There is no special treatment or anti-viral drug for WNV symptoms.
    • People with serious symptoms often need to be in the hospital. They will be given IV fluids and airway support.
    • There is not yet a vaccine to prevent WNV in humans.
  5. WNV — Spread by Mosquitoes:
    • WNV is spread by the bite of a mosquito. The mosquito gets the virus from biting infected birds.
    • Even in an area where WNV occurs, less than 1% of mosquitoes carry the virus.
    • Spread is mosquito-to-human.
    • Person-to-person spread does not occur. Kissing, touching, or sharing a glass with a person who has WNV is safe.
    • Mothers with mosquito bites can breastfeed (CDC 2003), unless they get symptoms of WNV.
    • It takes 3-14 days after the mosquito bite to get WNV.
    • In United States and Canada, the peak summers for WNV were 2002, 2003 and 2012.

Insect Repellent Questions

  1. Prevention Tips:
    • Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a hat.
    • Avoid being outside when the bugs are most active. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk. Limit your child’s outdoor play during these times.
    • Get rid of any standing water. (Reason: It’s where they lay their eggs.)
    • Keep bugs out of your home by fixing any broken screens.
    • Insect repellents containing DEET are very good at preventing mosquito bites. Read the label carefully.
  2. DEET Products — Use on the Skin:
    • DEET is a good mosquito repellent. It also repels ticks and other bugs.
    • The AAP approves DEET use over 2 months old. Use 30% DEET or less. Use 30% DEET if you need 6 hours of protection. Use 10% DEET if you only need protection for 2 hours.
    • Don’t put DEET on the hands if your child sucks their thumb or fingers. (Reason: Prevent swallowing DEET)
    • Warn older children who apply their own DEET to use less. A total of 3 or 4 drops can protect the whole body.
    • Put on exposed areas of skin. Do not use near eyes or mouth. Don’t use on skin that is covered by clothing. Don’t put DEET on sunburns or rashes. (Reason: DEET can be easily absorbed in these areas.)
    • Wash it off with soap and water when your child comes indoors.
    • Caution: DEET can damage clothing made of man-made fibers. It can also damage plastics (eye glasses) and leather. DEET can be used on cotton clothing.
  3. Permethrin Product — Use on Clothing:
    • Products that contain permethrin (such as Duranon) work well to repel mosquitos and ticks.
    • Unlike DEET, these products are put on clothing instead of on the skin.
    • Put it on shirt cuffs, pant cuffs, shoes and hats. Can also put it on mosquito nets and sleeping bags.
    • Do not put permethrin on the skin. (Reason: Sweat changes it so it does not work).
  4. Picaridin Products:
    • Picaridin is a repellent that is equal to 10% DEET.
    • It can safely be put on skin or clothing.

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the ‘Call Your Doctor’ symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Last Reviewed: 04/24/2020

Last Revised: 03/21/2020

Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.


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