How to identify insect & mite bites

Written by laura hageman
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How to identify insect & mite bites
That smarts! A small insect on skin. (Insect image by Sergey Baglov from

Have you ever started itching and scratching and noticed a few bumps on your skin? These can be caused by either insects or mites. There are different kinds of mites that will bite into your skin, such as bird mites, scabies mites and bed bug mites. Some insects will bite several times and can bite in groups, such as fire ants and fleas. If you break out in a rash or if the bite is painful, it is best to seek medical attention. Otherwise, the bumps will typically disappear after a few days.

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  1. 1

    Analyse the appearance of the bite. Most insect or mite bites will itch, making you scratch, realising the bite is there. The bite will be redder than the surrounding skin, sometimes crusty, with either one or several bumps. One bump may be from a spider or a fly, whereas several bites could be from fleas, mosquitos or scabies mites. If the bite is not a bump (not raised) it could be a bed bug mite bite, which also causes itching. Some spider bites may not be raised, but there will be only one bite.

  2. 2

    Take notice to painful bites. Some insect bites can be very painful, making you immediately realise you have been bitten. Such insects as fire ants, horse flies and some spiders have painful bites. Fire ants make the skin inflamed, red and itchy and sometimes leave a hard knot that will give way to pus in a day or two. Fly bites are slightly swollen and light red.

  3. 3

    A bite from the brown recluse spider is not only painful but poisonous and needs immediate medical attention. The bite will be red and swollen. Sometimes the puncture wound from a brown recluse bite is visible. Another sign of a brown recluse bite is bull's-eye-like bands around the bite. Visit an emergency room or a doctor immediately.

  4. 4

    Examine the bite for a rash or blistering. Mosquito bites can cause severe itching, making the skin blister if it is continuously scratched. Fleas, chiggers, and mites cause rashes that can spread all over the body.

  5. 5

    Continue to watch any bite mark. The bite mark should disappear within a few days. If it appears to be getting worse by looking larger or infected then go to your doctor for treatment.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not attempt to treat a bite without knowing what kind of bite it is first. For instance, if you find that you have several fire ant bites right after you walked onto a fire ant hill, you can treat the bites by covering them with hydrogen peroxide. This will remove the itch and protect your skin from infection.

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