MLD Blog Image


We’ve all been bitten by bugs right? Mosquito bites, bee stings and the works! That irresistible itch can be tough to soothe at times. Let’s see if we can whip up something at home to cool down that bug bite burn!

Fun facts!

Insects, also known as arthropods are the most diverse group in animal kingdom. More than half of the total living organisms is represented by ‘class Insecta.’ The estimated number of species is around 8 million! Therefore, human contact with insects is inevitable. Most insects are made up of a hard shell called exoskeleton, a segmented body and three pairs of legs.

An insect bites trying to defend itself, when it’s agitated or wants to feed. Come to think of it, we all get a bit ‘hangry’ at times too, don’t we? The bite induces a toxic or allergic reaction in response to the protein in the insect’s saliva or venomous stings.

What are the signs and symptoms of an insect bite?

Insect bites are usually harmless. The signs and symptoms may vary from very mild local irritation to generalized symptoms and even a serious life threatening anaphylaxis (extreme allergic reaction). Insect bites may cause:

  • irritation
  • redness
  • swelling
  • itchiness
  • lump formation
  • pain
  • wheal formation
  • papules and blisters
  • dizziness

An insect bite is different from a sting. A bite is caused by the mouth parts of an insect whereas a sting is caused by stingers that are sharp venomous organs usually located at the rear end insects. Stinging insects include wasps, bees, scorpions and hornets. The probability of catching a disease from an insect bite is lower in colder climatic conditions, whereas near or at the Equator an insect bite may cause diseases like Malaria, Dengue Fever, Zika virus, Lyme disease or Sleeping sickness.

What a typical insect bite looks like

An insect bite causes a laceration, or a puncture wound which may form into a minor lump and may or may not be filled with serous fluid and cause itching. It usually goes away in a few days. Scratching the wound can me it go red, peel off the overlying skin and lead to infection. Warm overlying and surrounding skin, hardness or may even drain pus. Prolonged irritation, itching and constant scratching may cause the skin to thicken resulting in “lichenification” of the skin.

If you’ve been bitten by an insect and feel like it’s going from bad to worse then go to your nearest healthcare provider immediately. We don’t want the infection to spread. If you’re not sure about what to do, connect instantly with a doctor by downloading an app to find best doctors online on your smartphone or mobile device for FREE! Get expert advice on how to treat your bug bite through an online medical consultation. You can engage in a live video call or send in a picture of the bug bite to the doctor for a clearer and better assessment. Get a prescription online too. For more details, please go to

Different bugs and bug bites

Mosquitoes, midges and gnats may cause lump formation and mild itchiness which soon subsides. Mosquito bites can cause deadly diseases like Malaria, Dengue, Yellow fever and Encephalitis. The bite might be accompanied by symptoms such as fever, chills, body ache and headache. Tick bites can wear off in around three weeks. Ticks can also cause Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis among others. Flea bite typically forms an itchy wheal followed by papule formation. They are responsible for diseases like Typhus and Plague.

Bed bugs pose a major problem of public health. They infest clothing, bedding and mattresses. Their bite in sensitive individuals can lead to wheal formation, itching and papules. Horsefly bite can be painful with accompanied allergy like symptoms, itch, and dizziness and generalized weakness. Fire ants are aggressive and their bite can cause instant extreme pain and burning. Sensitive individuals can go into anaphylactic shock from their sting.

How do you treat an insect bite?

Bug bites treatment depends upon the severity of symptoms. First line treatment of a symptomatic insect bite is thorough cleansing of the affected area with soap and water, icing and over the counter painkillers like Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen. Topical steroids and insect bite cream may help in easing discomfort and reducing the swelling. If bitten by a bug which is still attached to the skin, use tweezers to remove it.

Generalized systemic symptoms like dizziness, generalized swelling or difficulty in breathing calls for a quick and vigorous medical intervention. A serious local reaction may require oral antihistamines and oral painkillers. Widespread swelling may require oral steroids. If large area of skin is affected with generalized symptoms, the patient is treated for allergic reaction and desensitized by a specialist. Fleas, mites and bed bugs infested clothing, bedding and furnishing should be treated and decontaminated. Pets, if any, should be also checked for infestation.

Complication may arise if the insect bite gets secondarily infected by bacteria causing serious and painful conditions like cellulitis, impetigo and lymphangitis which require antibiotics to be treated. Other transmitted diseases like Malaria and Lyme disease are also treated with antimalarial and antibiotics respectively.

Natural treatment for bug bites

Some natural instant home remedies include:

  • Oatmeal. It has anti-irritant properties. Oatmeal paste applied on a burning and itchy insect bite may relieve the symptoms. In case of multiple bites, an oatmeal bath is preferred.
  • Applying crushed ice can ease inflammation and cause numbness which reduces irritability.
  • The anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of honey can help ease the local symptoms.
  • The gel of aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory properties that can help heal minor wounds and local infections.
  • Eugenol, a chemical compound found in basil helps relieve an itchy skin.
  • Itch can also be eased by a dab of vinegar.

How do you prevent bug bites?

Insect bites can be prevented by minimizing the contact as much as possible, wearing long sleeved and light colored shirts and long boots. Avoid going to grassy areas and marshes. Cover garbage containers. Avoid formation of stagnant water bodies and draining them to prevent mosquito habitat. Use structural barriers like window screens and netting while sleeping. Insect repellants can also be used with caution avoiding direct spraying onto face and edibles. Repellants shouldn’t be sprayed on children. Be cautious when near beehives, ant hills and wasp nests.

The thing is, we can’t avoid being outdoors and bug bites are only inevitable since we share the ecosystem. What we can do is respect their space, their breeding grounds, and keep our environment clean. If we do encounter an insect bite, try treating it home first. It’s likely to get better. If it doesn’t contact your doctor as soon as possible or go to for help.