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Different types of bites

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

When enjoying the great outdoors, insect bites are often inevitable. While most bugs in the wild are harmless, others may sometimes give you a bite or sting that leaves you in pain.

Understanding the different types of bug bites can help you identify them and know how to treat them effectively.

It’s important to note that if your bite has become infected, you should book an online consultation with a pharmacist as soon as possible to get the advice and treatment you need.

Different bug bites

Mosquito bites

Mosquitoes are the most common type of insect bite in the UK. Their bites typically appear as small, red, itchy bumps.

Mosquito bites can vary in severity, with some people experiencing mild irritation while others may develop allergic reactions. To alleviate discomfort, apply an anti-itch cream or take an antihistamine.

Horsefly bites

Horseflies are large, biting insects found in rural areas and near water sources. Using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing can help deter horseflies.

Their bites are often very painful, this is because unlike mosquitoes, they do not release anaesthetic when they bite you.

If bitten, clean the area with soap and water and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. Taking a low strength painkiller can help further reduce discomfort and inflammation.

Bee and wasp stings

Though bees and wasps are usually harmless, those unfortunate enough to annoy them can get a nasty, painful sting. This is typically accompanied by swelling and redness around the affected area. 

If you’ve been stung, you should remove the stinger quickly with your fingernail or the edge of your bank card before applying a cold compress to reduce swelling. 

If you or someone around you starts to have a severe allergic reaction to the bite, you should call 999 immediately as it could be life-threatening. 

Midge/Gnat bites

Midges, also known as gnats, are tiny flying insects known for their irritating bites. While midge bites are usually harmless, they can cause discomfort and itchiness. 

Using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and trousers can help prevent midge bites. If bitten, applying calamine lotion or taking antihistamines can provide relief.

Tick bites

Ticks are most commonly found in wooded areas and grasslands, and in rare cases can lead to the development of Lyme disease.

After outdoor activities, you should thoroughly check for ticks, particularly in areas where they commonly attach, such as the scalp, armpits, and groin.

If you find one, remove the tick carefully with fine-tipped tweezers and clean the area with antiseptic. 

Frequently asked questions about insect bites

What are the most common types of insect bites in the UK?

Common insect bites in the UK include mosquitoes, midges, and horseflies. Protect yourself with repellents and appropriate clothing.

Do different insects cause varying symptoms with their bites?

Yes, different insects cause varying symptoms. Mosquitoes often cause itching, while horsefly bites can be painful and lead to swelling.

What can I do to avoid insect bites?

To avoid insect bites, use insect repellents, wear long sleeves and trousers, and avoid areas with stagnant water or dense vegetation.

A mosquito biting someone's arm that may result in an infection

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The conditions covered by Pharmacy First are:

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