Tick bites can have serious long-term effects.

Most of the time, bug bites are a nuisance. They’re itchy and irritating, but are generally harmless. Once in a while, however, a bug bite will require medical attention. This could be due to allergies, an infection or even poison. It’s important to know when to put the calamine lotion down and when to actually see a doctor.

Mosquito bites

It’s rare to go a summer without getting a few mosquito bites. These pink bumps are usually just a nuisance, but once in a while a mosquito can transmit West Nile Virus or malaria. If you’ve been bit by a mosquito and begin experiencing headaches, body aches, fever, vomiting, diarrhea or a skin rash, be sure to see your doctor.

Spider bites

Your average household spider’s bites aren’t cause for panic, but spiders found outdoors can be cause for concern. Tightness in the chest, breathing problems, difficulties swallowing or swelling of the face can be signs of a serious allergic reaction. Most notably, black widow and brown recluse spider bites require immediate medical attention. Black widow bites will show up with two puncture wounds, accompanied by pain and swelling, and can also cause muscle pain, nausea and vomiting. Brown recluse spider bites will begin to look like a blister or bruise. An untreated brown recluse spider bite can lead to seizures, kidney failure and coma. Spider bites can also carry tetanus, so if you’ve been bitten by a spider and haven’t had a booster shot, be sure to see a doctor.

Tick bites

The biggest cause for concern when it comes to tick bites is Lyme disease. Usually accompanied by a bull’s-eye-shaped rash up to a month after a tick bite, Lyme disease can lead to swollen or painful joints, memory loss or other autoimmune responses. Pay close attention to how you’re feeling in the weeks following a tick bite, because 20 to 30 percent of people with Lyme disease never develop a rash.

Bee stings

While bee stings are just a painful nuisance for most, some people are very allergic to a bee’s venom. Known as anaphylaxis, if you experience hives, swelling, trouble breathing, dizziness, cramps, nausea or diarrhea after a bee sting, be sure to get to a hospital immediately.


Mites are tiny bugs that cause scabies. Female mites will burrow under the skin to lay eggs and the larvae will begin to feed. This will cause red bumps that look like acne, but itch, especially at night. This condition is contagious, so be sure to see a doctor at the first sign of scabies. Be sure not to scratch these bites and burrows, in order to avoid a wound infection in addition to scabies.

The best way to avoid these types of insect bites is to avoid environments that they’re in. If you can’t avoid them, be sure to wear long sleeves and long pants in light colors so you can see if there are bugs on you. If you’re outside at dusk in the summer, or in humid conditions, light citronella candles and use bug spray to keep as many of them away from you as possible. For your average bug bites or stings, remove any stingers with sterilized tweezers and wash the wound. If the swelling or pain is bothersome, soothe it with an ice pack and calamine lotion and be sure not to scratch it. If scratching is a problem, put a bandage on the area to keep your fingers off of it.

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