Chigger Bites

When trying to identify the source of a bite, doctors are looking at your skin. But they’re also thinking about what you were doing when you got the bite, other symptoms you have and whether or not you got a look a the insect that was responsible, Dr. Amy Kassouf, dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells TODAY.com.

You may notice that bug bites pick up in the summer, when you’re outside more often and exposing more skin, but they can occur any time of year—especially if you happen to be preyed upon inside of your home. (Spiders, bed bugs, and fleas don’t hibernate in the winter, sadly.) There are ways to deter the critters from coming your way, especially if you use insect repellent or bug spray, but there’s no perfect solution to ward off the pests.

Some people have such a strong allergic reaction that they’re in danger of developing anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. Signs of a more severe reaction include itchiness in areas that weren’t bitten, swelling in the lips or tongue and trouble breathing.

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Ant bites are typically painful and itchy. In addition to the bites, fire ants use their stinger to inject a venom called solenopsin, which causes a burning sensation, Frye says.

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For example, tiny biting midges may cause very small bites with temporary symptoms that last just a few minutes, he explains. On the other end of the spectrum, horse flies and deer flies use “blade-like” mouthparts to slash the skin before eating the spilling blood, which causes large, painful bites, Frye says.

A mosquito bite appears as an itchy, round red or pink skin bump. It’s usually a harmless bug bite but can sometimes cause a serious illness, such as the Zika virus (particularly harmful in pregnant women), West Nile virus, malaria, or eastern equine encephalitis (EEE). For most people, Zika causes a brief, flulike illness. But newborns of pregnant women infected with Zika have an alarming rate of microcephaly birth defects. Check out the Zika Travel Information page on the website for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find out more about travel warnings and advisories.

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The brown recluse spider is poisonous and usually lives in dark and unused spaces. Some people feel a small sting followed immediately by a sharp pain, while others don’t realize they’ve gotten a brown recluse bite until hours later. Four to eight hours afterward, the bite may become more painful and look like a bruise or blister with a blue-purple area around it. Later, the bite becomes crusty and turns dark. It’s also worth noting that this type of spider is found in several Midwestern states, western parts of some Southern states (including Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia), and the central Southern states (including Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri) — and they’re rarely found outside of these areas, according to the University of Kentucky.

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For bites that aren’t necessarily an emergency but aren’t going away, your doctor or dermatologist can prescribe other treatments, like topical creams or oral medication, Kassouf says.

The bites may appear in a noticeable line — what experts sometimes call a “breakfast, lunch and dinner” pattern, Dr. Benjamin N. Ungar, director of the Alopecia Center of Excellence and director of the Rosacea and Seborrheic Dermatitis Clinic at Mount Sinai, told TODAY.com previously.

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Symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite occur within a few hours and include fever, chills, itching, nausea, and sweating. Because some people will have a serious reaction that can lead to kidney failure, seizure, and coma, it’s important to get medical care at once, according to MedlinePlus. Be sure to seek medical attention immediately if you could have been bitten by a poisonous spider; call 911 or America’s Poison Centers at 800-222-1222.

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But if you develop symptoms of an allergic reaction — swelling in the mouth, trouble breathing, widespread rash — or signs of an infection, like pus or a fever, you should check in with your doctor, Kassouf says. And bites from certain critters, like venomous spiders or disease-carrying ticks, also require medical attention, she adds.

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Chigger Bites

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Here are some of the mot common bug, insect and spider bites you might be dealing with.

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Chigger bites

Whether you first notice a sharp pinch, a nagging itch, or a painful sting, discovering a brand-new bug bite—sometimes instantly, but often only days later—is no fun. Some ache, some beg to be scratched, and the worst of the bunch do both. And often, you haven’t the slightest clue which critter could have been the culprit. Have a nasty bite you can’t attribute to a specific house bug or outdoor pest? We’re sharing bug bite pictures to help you properly identify the offender, and how to best treat the wound.

At first, a brown recluse spider bite may look like a bug bite or bee sting. It can be a small, raised red or purplish bump. You may see a tiny pinprick or two fang marks at the area of the bite.

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