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Insect Bites

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According to The Encyclopedia of Skin and Skin Disorders, an insect bite is a puncture wound in the skin by any variety of insects. Some people have more reactions to bites or stings. Babies are usually more affected by bites and stings than adults. Severe allergic or toxic reactions are not common but can be life-threatening and require emergency care. Common stinging or biting insects that cause mild reactions are: mosquitoes, flies, fleas, bedbugs and kissing bugs, chiggers, nonpoisonous spiders, ticks, scabies, and lice. Some insects are more likely than others to cause allergic or toxic reactions. Insect bites are not usually dangerous if the victim is not allergic to them.

Insect bites often cause minor swelling, redness, pain, and itching. These mild reactions are common and may last for a few hours or days. There will be one or more swollen red bumps on the skin. There is often a small hole in the middle of the bite, perhaps with the end of the sting sticking out Signs and symptoms of an allergic or toxic reaction to an insect bite are: shock, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, feeling of fullness in mouth or throat, swelling of lips, tongue, ears, eyelids, palms of hands, and soles of feet, lightheadedness, confusion, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and hives.

To prevent the insect bite from getting worse, wash the bite with soap and water, then cool off the skin with ice cubes or an ice-pack. If necessary, apply a painkilling cream or gel or an antihistamine to soothe the itch. Itch and redness can also be reduced with calamine lotions and other topical corticosteroids. If bite becomes infected, antibiotics may be needed. To prevent being bitten or stung take these precautions: apply insect repellent before going into woods, wear light-colored clothes that cover your body, avoid loose clothing and bright colors, avoid going barefooted or wearing sandals outdoors. Another good way to keep from getting insect bites



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