Is It Just a Mosquito Bite or Should I Go to Immediate Care?

Sum­mer can be a time filled with fun mem­o­ries, like swim­ming in the lake, going for a hike, or sim­ply spend­ing time out­side with your fam­i­ly. But sum­mer can come with ups and downs — and one of the major down­sides is mos­qui­to bites.

While they may be itchy and annoy­ing, there are some times when just a bug bite” might need more atten­tion. Here’s how to know when that pesky mos­qui­to bite could be some­thing more seri­ous — and what to do next.

Itch­i­ness is Nor­mal — These Oth­er Symp­toms Are Not

It’s well-known that mos­qui­to bites are often paired with itch­i­ness, and this is no cause for alarm. The itch is caused by the mos­qui­to bit­ing you and inject­ing sali­va into your skin. The sali­va is actu­al­ly what your body is react­ing to, and not the bite itself. Appli­ca­tion of heat using a device such as Ther­a­pik, or sim­ply rins­ing the itchy area with warm water may help.

Most peo­ple have a mild reac­tion to mos­qui­to bites that include a raised bump, itch­i­ness, and maybe some skin dis­col­oration around the bite (typ­i­cal­ly red or brown).

When — and when not — to vis­it Imme­di­ate Care:

While many peo­ple will not expe­ri­ence seri­ous symp­toms as a result of a mos­qui­to bite, few might have a more seri­ous reaction. 

Reach out to your physi­cian or vis­it an imme­di­ate care cen­ter if you are expe­ri­enc­ing more severe symp­toms, such as:

  • Fever
  • Hives
  • Sig­nif­i­cant swelling or pain (either around the bite loca­tion or in the lymph nodes)
  • Joint pain

These symp­toms can be caused by a bug bite or by anoth­er ill­ness. A Duly Health and Care provider can help rule dif­fer­ent pos­si­bil­i­ties out and get you the treat­ment you need.

Mos­qui­to Bites Are Rarely an Issue — But Oth­er Insects Might Be

Get­ting bit­ten by mos­qui­toes isn’t a fun sum­mer pas­time, but it is one that you may be very famil­iar with. But if you are bit­ten or stung by anoth­er insect, you may be won­der­ing what’s nor­mal and what is cause for concern.

When — and when not — to vis­it Imme­di­ate Care:

  • Tick bites: Ticks can typ­i­cal­ly be removed at home with a pair of clean tweez­ers, and don’t require a trip to imme­di­ate care. It is impor­tant to mon­i­tor for symp­toms of Lyme dis­ease in the weeks fol­low­ing a tick bite, and con­sult your physi­cian if you expe­ri­ence any of the fol­low­ing:
    • A round or oval rash (might look like a bullseye)
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Pain in your mus­cles or joints
  • Bee stings: Bee stings typ­i­cal­ly do not require a trip to imme­di­ate care, and can be treat­ed by remov­ing the stinger, wash­ing with soap and water, and apply­ing heat to the area with a device such as Ther­a­pik, a heat­ing pad, or warm water rinse for 1 – 2 minutes.

While many insect bites are painful or itchy, most can be treat­ed at home. But, it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that everyone’s body reacts dif­fer­ent­ly, and aller­gic reac­tions (or ana­phy­lax­is) can be deadly.

Peo­ple with a known insect aller­gy or who have expe­ri­enced an ana­phy­lac­tic reac­tion before should car­ry an epi-pen at all times — espe­cial­ly dur­ing the summer.

Call 911 if some­one has been stung or bit­ten and begins expe­ri­enc­ing:

  • Swollen throat, or trou­ble swal­low­ing or speaking
  • Swelling, itch­ing, or hives at the sting site or oth­er parts of the body
  • Dif­fi­cul­ty breath­ing, wheez­ing, cough­ing, or hoarse voice
  • Vom­it­ing, nau­sea, diar­rhea, or abdom­i­nal cramps
  • Tight­ness in the chest
  • Dizzi­ness or fainting

Scabs Are Okay — Infec­tions Are Not

If you’ve ever had a mos­qui­to bite you can’t stop scratch­ing, you prob­a­bly know what hap­pens when you scratch too much. Over-itch­ing can lead to you break­ing the skin and result in a scab that lasts longer than the ini­tial bug bite would have.

These scabs can be annoy­ing, but they aren’t a cause for con­cern — and most can be treat­ed with soap and water, a lit­tle oint­ment, and a sim­ple bandaid.

When — and when not — to vis­it Imme­di­ate Care:

Insect bites can become infect­ed if you scratch too much or have open wounds that bac­te­ria can get in.

Con­tact your physi­cian or vis­it an Imme­di­ate Care Cen­ter if your bug bite becomes:

  • Warm to the touch
  • Red
  • Streaky (with red streaks spread­ing out from the bite)

Cel­e­brate Sum­mer — With­out Those Pesky Mosquitoes

While bugs are annoy­ing and bug bites even more so, there are many pre­cau­tions you and your fam­i­ly can take to repel mos­qui­toes and ticks from your sum­mer fun.

Com­mon Tips to Avoid Mosquitoes

  • Apply EPA-reg­is­tered insect repel­lent with DEET or Picaridin (active chem­i­cals that ward off insects).
  • Wear clothes that cov­er the arms and legs.
  • Only leave win­dows open if they have screens.
  • Remove stand­ing water from flower pots and buck­ets to keep mos­qui­toes from lay­ing eggs.

With just a few addi­tions to your sum­mer safe­ty rou­tine, you can beat the itch and enjoy your time outdoors.

If you’re in need of med­ical atten­tion, find a Duly Health and Care Imme­di­ate Care loca­tion near you.