What Is an Allergic Reaction to Bug Bites?


Quick Answer

While most people have mild side effects that include itching, swelling or pain at the site of an insect bite, others can experience a dangerous allergic reaction when bitten by insects, according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of a severe allergic anaphylactic reaction include nausea, facial swelling, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain and diminished blood pressure. Additionally, if a bite swells larger than 4 inches across, medical attention should be sought.

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Full Answer

Typically, bites from bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets and fire ants pose the greatest risk of an allergic reaction, according to Mayo Clinic. However, other insects such as mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, ants, scorpions and spiders are also known to cause reactions in some people.

For mild reactions to bites, it is important to move to a safe area to avoid further bites, advises Mayo Clinic. Applying an ice pack and taking a pain reliever can minimize symptoms, as can applying a topical cream or taking an antihistamine. For more serious allergic reactions, such as diarrhea or intense swelling, it is important to contact a doctor promptly. For severe reactions that affect more areas of the body than the site of the insect bite, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, as allergic reactions can progress rapidly.

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