How to Know if You’re Having an Allergic Reaction to a Bug Bite

A mosquito on a person's skin

For many people, a bug bite is just an itchy inconvenience that lasts for a few days. For others, however, it can cause a painful or life-threatening allergic reaction.

When a bug bites, it releases saliva, which contains an anticoagulant and proteins. The proteins are foreign substances that trigger the body’s immune system response. The immune system responds to these foreign proteins by releasing something called histamine, a compound that helps white blood cells get to and heal the infected area. So when you have an inflamed, itchy and swollen bug bite, it’s actually your body’s immune system at work.

Are you having a serious allergic reaction to a bug bite?

While most people experience slight swelling at the bite area, those who are highly allergic experience large red welts around the bite area, hives, tingling or itching inside the mouth, nausea, or vomiting. More severe allergic reactions like these typically occur within minutes of the sting but can occur at any time within the first 24 hours.

If you or a loved one experience one or more of the following severe symptoms of a bug bite please visit your nearest urgent care, emergency room or call 911:

  • Anaphylaxis (a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficult swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

How are severe allergic reactions to bug bites treated?

Life-threatening allergic reactions can progress very quickly and require immediate medical care. The skilled specialists at Coastal Urgent Care of Gonzales have experience in the diagnosis and treatment of bug bite allergic reactions as well as preventative treatments for the underlying allergy.

First, our specialist will identify and administer appropriate medications (e.g., epinephrine, antihistamines, corticosteroids, intravenous fluids, oxygen, etc.). Once the person is stable, overnight observation in the hospital may be recommended (depending on the severity of the initial reaction). Following treatment and observation, our team will then recommend and prescribe an injectable epinephrine for self-administration and advise at least two be within reach at all times.

Coastal Urgent Care is open for walk-ins 7 days a week between 9:00 am and 8:00 pm.

We are also offering telemedicine appointments throughout the pandemic.