A mosquito leaves a painful bug bite. Bzzz, bzzz…

That’s right: despite the season’s slow start in Pittsburgh, the rising temperatures are starting to coax out a more aggravating part of Spring: insects. At the best of times, many insects are a nuisance. But in the worst situations, they can be a health related nightmare, particularly if allergies are involved! And because the effects of a bite from these six-legged critters can range from aggravating to serious, it’s critical that families and parents brush up on insect-related health facts - particularly as we all begin to spend more time out, about and outdoors.

Bug Bites Are Usually Harmless!

The good news is that the majority of bug bites really are nothing more than a nuisance that can be treated at home. According to WebMD, “Insect and spider bites often cause minor swelling, redness, pain, and itching. These mild reactions are common and may last from a few hours to a few days. Home treatment is often all that is needed to relieve the symptoms of a mild reaction to common stinging or biting insects and spiders.”

...But Bug Bites Are Not Always Harmless

Unfortunately, it’s possible that you or a child may experience a more severe reaction to a bug bite in the wrong circumstances. So to make sure your family receives the right care for any stings or bites this season, it’s important to be able to identify what can be treated at home - and what can’t.

For example, the following examples highlight three times when emergency or medical care is going to be a necessary part of treating a bug bite or sting:

  • Anaphylaxis.Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. Unlike ordinary allergic reactions, these types of reactions could be life threatening - and they always require emergency care!
  • Toxic reactions. While many insect bites are relatively harmless, a bite or sting that includes actual venom could lead to a toxic reaction. Without medical care, these reactions can lead to death.
  • Infection. Even if someone does not immediately have a bad reaction to a bite or sting, it's always possible that these sites could get infected and require medical care after the fact. Watching for the signs of infection is critical in ensuring bites or stings gets proper care as you or a child recover from them.

Recoginze The Signs Of Trouble

As you can see, bug bites have the potential to get complicated! How, then, can you know when to visit a doctor? Just follow the advice of the American Academy of Dermatology. Their recommendation is that you visit an emergency room when any of the following symptoms develop:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • The sensation that your throat is closing
  • Swollen lips, tongue or face
  • Chest pain
  • A racing heartbeat that lasts more than a few minutes
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • A headache
  • A red, donut-shaped or target-shaped rash that develops after a tick bite
  • A fever with a red or black, spotty rash that spreads

And our team here at Genesis Medical? While a number of bites can be treated at home - and can even be prevented entirely - our staff are always happy to meet with a family with concerns should a bug bite look particularly nasty or take a particularly long length of time to heal. Just give us a call any time you have questions or concerns this season, and we’ll be more than happy to help ensure that you can continue to enjoy yourself at your happiest and healthiest!