insect bite

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Related to insect bite: mosquito bite, Spider bite

insect bite

Etymology: L, in, within, secare, to cut
the bite of any parasitic or venomous arthropod such as a louse, flea, mite, tick, or arachnid. Many arthropods inject venom that produces poisoning or severe local reaction, saliva that may contain viruses, or substances that produce mild irritation. The degree of irritation produced by an insect's bite is affected by the design and shape of its mouth parts: A horsefly, for example, makes a short lateral and coarse wound whereas a tick takes hold with its backward curved teeth, making its removal difficult. Spiders inflict a sharp pinprick bite that may remain unnoticed until the injected venom has begun to produce a painful reaction. Treatment of a bite depends on the species of insect, the reaction to the bite, and the risk of sequelae from it. First aid treatment is generally symptomatic and includes ice or cold packs, careful cleaning of the wound, and antihistamines or specific antivenin as necessary.

insect bite

An injury in which the body surface is torn by an insect, resulting in abrasions, punctures, or lacerated wounds. Insect bites cause more deaths than do snake bites. For more information, see entries for individual insects.


The reaction of a previously sensitized person is a potentially life-threatening medical emergency that requires prompt, effective therapy. Symptoms may include hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the site of the bite, tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing, hoarse voice, swelling of the tongue, dizziness or hypotension, unconsciousness, and cardiac arrest.

First Aid

If the wound is suspected of containing venom, a bandage sufficiently tight to prevent venous return is applied if the bite is on an extremity. The wound is washed with saline solution thoroughly and a dry sterile dressing is applied. Appropriate antitetanus therapy is applied. Treatment for shock may be needed.

Some insect bites contain an acid substance resembling formic acid and consequently are relieved by topically applied alkalies, such as ammonia water or baking soda paste. For intense local pain, injection of local anesthetic may be required. Systemic medication may be needed for generalized pain.

Individuals who have had an allergic reaction to an insect bite may benefit from venom immunotherapy. This treatment involves administration of very small amounts of the insect venom over several weeks until immunity develops. Immunity is then maintained by periodic venom boosters.

Persons who have a history of an anaphylactic reaction to insect bites should avoid exposure to insects by wearing protective clothing, gloves, and shoes. Cosmetics, perfumes, and hair sprays should be avoided because they attract some insects, as do brightly colored and white clothing. Because foods and odor attract insects, care should be taken when cooking and eating outdoors.

See also: bite


1. seizure with the teeth.
2. a wound or puncture made by a living organism.
3. the position of upper and lower teeth in relation to each other when the mouth is closed. See also biting.

animal bite
trauma caused by teeth and usually heavily contaminated with microorganisms. In countries where rabies is present the additional consideration is to ensure that the biter is not rabid, or if there is uncertainty to decide on whether postbite treatment or vaccination would be desirable. See also cat-bite abscess, cat-scratch disease, fighting.
dog bite
see animal bite (above).
insect bite
depending on the nature of the insect and the site, the tissue response may be minimal to extensive, particularly when a hypersensitivity reaction is involved. Pruritus is also variable.
open bite
upper and lower incisors fail to meet when the mouth is closed.
overshot bite
pincer bite
upper and lower incisors make contact on their edges rather than overlapping when the mouth is closed.
reverse scissor bite
the labial surface of the lower incisors makes contact with the lingual surface of the upper incisors when the mouth is closed. Called also anterior crossbite.
scissor bite
the lingual surface of the upper incisors contacts the labial surface of the lower incisors when the mouth is closed. Generally, a normal bite in carnivores.
bite wound
it is often necessary to diagnose that a wound has in fact been caused by a bite. This may be aided by observation of typical puncture wounds, perhaps with extravasations of blood in the subcutaneous tissues, by parallel rake marks, by a matching pair of wounds made by the upper and lower jaws of the biter.

Patient discussion about insect bite

Q. an insect bite seems infected and is bleeding... the area under the skin is hard and sore... when pressed it bleeds quite a bit

A. It sounds like you have cellulitis around the area of the bite, and you should see a doctor to decide whether or not this requires antibiotics.

More discussions about insect bite
References in periodicals archive ?
Minor symptoms like itching and redness caused by most insect bites don't last longer than a week.
As the Brand's new spokesbug, the Mystery Bug will be used through marketing, social media and public relations as an educational voice and the "expert" on all things related to insects and insect bite treatment.
Never prick any blister from an insect bite as it may cause more pain and irritation.
Most of us dismiss insect bites without realising that many of them are hazardous to the health.
Smith, a target for Newcastle Falcons last season, is currently sidelined for up to a month after knee surgery following an insect bite.
If you have a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite, such as wheezing, or other signs of respiratory distress, or hypotension (low blood pressure), you should call 999 immediately for medical assistance.
In an unrelated incident, a third girl was taken to a hospital after suffering an allergic reaction to what was believed to be an insect bite, school officials said.
Three were found in tourists who had traveled to tropical countries: a 20-year-old diver had injured her heel after stepping on coral in Thailand; a 60-year-old tourist had a chronic ulcer develop in the thigh alter a trip to Indonesia (no history of an insect bite); and a 39-year-old traveler to Kenya returned with a purulent ear infection with no memory of trauma or insect bite.
He recalled no specific tick or insect bite, and he denied any knowledge of contact with rabbits or rabbit meat, the primary vectors in zoonotic transmission.
If a person is experiencing an allergic reaction or signs of illness from an insect bite or sting, they should seek immediate medical attention.
ASOMETIMES an insect bite causes the skin to react and scar tissue to form that can take weeks to settle.
o If you or your child is bitten by a snake, or reacts strongly to an insect bite, go to an emergency room for treatment.