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Insect Bites

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Last updated June 11, 2022

Insect bites quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your insect bites.

Insect bites quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your insect bites.

Take insect bites quiz

What are insect bites?

Mosquitoes, spiders, black flies, ticks, bed bugs—these are a handful of the insects that can bite us and leave at best an unpleasant reaction, and at worst, a serious illness.

Insect bites are often itchy, which is because your body is reacting to proteins in the bug’s saliva. It causes an allergic reaction that can vary from mild to severe, depending on the insect and the individual person.

Mosquitoes and bed bugs are common causes of intense bite reactions. Children are more likely to have more intense reactions than adults because of their strong immune response.

In some cases, insect bites can trigger more serious illnesses, such as tick bites and Lyme disease. Check for unusual patterns in the rash. For instance, some tick bites may be accompanied by a rash that looks like a bull’s eye.

Bed bug bites appear in clusters. It is important to recognize bed bug bites because your home needs to be thoroughly examined and exterminated to get rid of the bugs.



See a doctor if the rash doesn’t go away, the itching is severe, or the rash seems to be getting worse. An ice pack, OTC anti-itch cream (Sarna), hydrocortisone cream, or antihistamines can help relieve the bites and itching.

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Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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