How to Tell if A Bug Bite Needs Medical Attention

Aug 15, 2018

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When you plant yourself on the sunny shores of Florida, you can count on bugs becoming part of your scene. They seem to enjoy Florida’s blue skies and beautiful scenery as much as humans.

When you plant yourself on the sunny shores of Florida, you can count on bugs becoming part of your scene. They seem to enjoy Florida’s blue skies and beautiful scenery as much as humans.

The best way to coexist with bugs is a proactive defense. Use your insect repellant liberally when outside, avoid their favorite haunts, and keep your landscape clear of bug-friendly hideouts.

No defense, however, will help you avoid every sting or bite. When you experience a bite, it’s sometimes hard to decide whether you should see a doctor or just get on with your day.

The physicians at DOCCS in Melbourne, Florida are experts at treating bug bites that linger longer than they should or cause worrisome symptoms from the get-go. They’ve put together a few tips to help you decide when to seek medical attention for a bite or sting.

Sometimes it depends on the bug

There are millions of insects and spiders in Florida that wouldn’t think of biting or stinging humans. A few species, however, won’t hesitate to deliver a venomous sting or bite if you invade their space – and some of their bites are dangerous.

The brown recluse spider or the Southern black widow, for instance, can deliver bites that may keep you miserable for weeks. The black widow’s bite can make adults sick, but may be fatal for young children, so you should seek urgent medical attention if you or a loved one is bitten.

Black widows are easily distinguished by their round black body that’s marked with a red hourglass shape on the underside. They’re most active at night and prefer to live in dark, cool places such as garages or garden sheds where there are plenty of crevices in which to hide.

You may not notice pain initially with a brown recluse bite. They aren’t as plentiful in Florida as other spider species and can be hard to spot. Their coloring blends well with the damp piles of leaves, shoes, or mounds of clothing they prefer to inhabit.

Other bugs, such as mosquitos and ticks, rely on blood for sustenance. Unfortunately, they can also pass along serious illnesses with their bite, including Lyme disease for ticks or a host of viruses from the mosquito, such as malaria or the Zika virus.

Knowing which bug took a bite or delivered a sting often helps determine whether you need to make a trip to the doctor. It pays, therefore, to learn about the types of bugs that frequent your neighborhood and which are dangerous.

Grade your symptoms

Most bug bites or stings only cause mild discomfort that fades quickly. If you aren’t allergic, even a painful bee sting typically becomes a memory within a day or two.

Sometimes, however, you may develop symptoms that need medical care. These include:

  • Spreading redness, warmth, colored discharge, or other signs of infection at the wound site

  • A painful black to bluish ulceration at the site of a bite that doesn’t seem to heal, which may indicate a brown recluse bite

  • Flu-like symptoms that may occur several days after an encounter with hungry mosquitoes

  • A red ring or bullseye type rash or discoloration on your skin, which may indicate you’re developing a tick-borne illness

Regarding ticks, because they carry many types of diseases and can be hard to dislodge, we recommend you come see us at DOCCS for a quick check and tick removal whenever you notice one of these pesky arachnids attached to your skin.

Seek urgent medical attention if you have a significant reaction to any type of bug bite or sting, which may include:

  • Problems breathing

  • Hives

  • Swelling of the lips, eyelids, or throat

  • Dizziness or confusion

  • Fainting

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Nausea, muscle cramps, or vomiting

  • Unusually pale skin or a flushed appearance

Count the bites

Provided you don’t have an allergy, one mosquito bite or a single fire ant sting is probably not going to ruin your day. If you have several bites, however, the doctor can often provide treatment that helps prevent infection and ease the itch until your body has a chance to recover.

Even when you aren’t allergic, multiple stings from fire ants, bees, wasps, and hornets can deliver highly concerning levels of venom to your system. Don’t hesitate to call 911 in these cases, especially if you have difficulty breathing or develop other signs of a serious reaction.

At DOCCS, we offer expert medical care and hours that fit your busy schedule. Stop in for a visit if you have a worrisome bug bite or just need reassurance about whether it’s serious or not.

DOCCS Urgent and Primary Health Care
✆ Phone (appointments): tel:321-752-7100