Inflamed insect bite

When is this dangerous?

An insect bite is common especially in the warm months. However, while most insect bites are a trivial event, an insect bite may also be associated with acute or delayed complications. While elsewhere a dreaded episode of an insect bite is the transmission of diseases such as malaria, fortunately, these diseases in our latitudes hardly play a role. In our opinion the complications of the insect sting are on the one hand the allergic reaction, on the other hand the inflammation in the foreground.

Especially with bee and wasp stings symptoms of an allergy can occur. In severe allergic reactions, which are fortunately rare, the insect bite can affect the circulatory functions, which can lead to life-threatening complications. Such an acute situation requires immediate emergency medical intervention.

Fortunately, in most cases, the local response to an insect bite is limited to the area of ​​the sting; the inflammation.

Inflammatory reactions are the body's response to external stimuli and are designed to ward off these damaging stimuli. The local, ie localized inflammation is thus regarded as a normal and meaningful response to an insect bite. It serves to ward off pathogens and foreign proteins, as they are contained in insecticides or saliva. Furthermore, the healing of the resulting wound is favored by the inflammation.

Problems can cause inflammation after an insect bite especially if they were caused by colonization of the tissue by bacteria.


Depending on the nature of the stinging insect, there is no (or only slight) pain during the sting, as well as severe stabbing or burning pain. Signs of inflammation are redness, swelling (for example, in the form of blisters or wheals), and heating of the puncture site and the surrounding tissue beyond the pain.

These symptoms are basically found in all types of inflammation in the body.

Insect bites can also cause itching. This is often felt to be the most disturbing symptom of an insect bite.

The inflammatory response may vary significantly depending on the nature of the insect, personal responsiveness, and previous bites. Thus, the symptoms range from only punctate, itchy redness to several centimeters large swelling.

As a rule, these symptoms are harmless and after a short time go by themselves. An inflammation in the insect bite can become dangerous if it comes to an infection of the area around the insect bite by bacteria. In the event of large redness or swelling over a period of days, often with a feeling of tightness or pronounced pain, a doctor should be consulted to rule out any bacterial infection of the tissue around the puncture. Pus is also an indication of a bacterial infection and should be examined urgently by a doctor. Likewise pronounced yellowish encrustations, which can occur especially after more severe scratching.

Not only the skin and subcutaneous tissue can be infected by bacteria after an insect bite. In case of a sting in the area of ​​the limbs, it can also lead to an inflammation of the lymphatics. This phenomenon, often referred to as "blood poisoning", often results in visible cord-like reddening and swelling of the lymphatics on the arms or legs, which also requires medical treatment.

Even after tick bites (which in fact are not among the insect bites, as ticks are arachnids), the observation of the injection site should be particularly important. Warning symptom of transmitted by ticks borreliosis is the so-called Wanderröte ( Erythema migrans ). Typically, redness occurs at the puncture site. This spreads in the course of time continues circular, she "migrated", that is walking. From this fact derives the name of this phenomenon.

However, since such a characteristic appearance does not always stand out clearly, a doctor should be consulted in case of doubt in case of unclear area redness after tick bite or unclear stitch. This can also perform a Borreliosetest among other things. Because it sometimes can lead to a rapid regression of the erythema migrans, it may be useful to photograph the visible inflammation of the mosquito bite and later submit the images to the treating doctor.

Purulent inflamed insect bite

Pus is an indication of an inflammatory reaction of the body. It is a yellowish liquid, which usually consists of immune cells of the body and other dead body cells and bacteria. In most cases, pus develops when there is a bacterial infection (superinfection). This can easily happen in an inflamed insect bite, as the pathogens reach the wound by scratching the stitch under the skin. In case of a festering inflammation which is due to an insect bite, a doctor should always be consulted. Since bacteria are responsible for the development of the pus, antibiotic therapy should be initiated. The pus should be additionally mechanically cleared. In very large cavities, this procedure is performed in a hospital in surgery. Small abscesses, on the other hand, can be removed by a general practitioner. After the start of antibiotic therapy, the bacterial inflammation should decrease significantly after about 48 hours.

Insect bite with annular redness

In general, various insect bites can cause circular redness, such as flea bites. If a circular redness forms around the puncture site, however, one must first consider whether a tick bite is remembered in recent weeks. A red ring around the puncture site may be indicative of Lyme disease, a tick-borne disease caused by specific bacteria (Borrelia). Typical of this is the so-called Erythema migrans, because the redness on the skin along "migrate", so their position or size can change. If such a skin pattern is present, possibly with concomitant symptoms such as fever or pain, a doctor should be consulted immediately.

Figure therapy inflammation after an insect bite

Figure inflammation after insect bite: symptoms and therapy

Inflammation after insect bite

  1. reddening
  2. swelling
    (Blisters or wheals)
    and warming
  3. Pus is an indication of one
    bacterial infection
    (See doctor)
  4. Inflammation of the lymphatics
    also called "blood poisoning"
    designated (see doctor)
  5. Poison or other substances
    (eg saliva)
    A - cooling of the puncture site
    with ice or quark envelopes
    B - antihistamines in
    Tablet form or as gels and
    cortisone medications
    C - antibiotic therapy
    D - cool place with one
    sliced ​​onion
    E - Scratching after
    Possibility completely to refrain

How dangerous is an insect bite?

In most cases, an insect bite and its symptoms are mainly annoying, but completely harmless and short-lived. The typical symptoms can range from no to severe pain, redness, swelling and warming of the surrounding tissue due to local inflammation. Increased it comes in response to the insect bite itching, caused by the release of endogenous substances, such as histamine.

An insect bite can only be acutely dangerous if the person concerned suffers from an allergy to substances applied by the insect and, therefore, shortly after the bite, triggers an "emergency cascade" in the patient's body that goes beyond a local reaction. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as pronounced swelling, for example, in the respiratory tract, which can lead to shortness of breath or to a general shift of fluid from the vessels into the surrounding tissue to form edema, come. In addition, a large decrease in blood pressure occurs in combination with an increase in heart rate. All in all, the resulting clinical picture of the "allergic shock" is a vitally threatening clinical picture.

Over a period of several hours to days, the insect bite is usually not dangerous; There is a certain potential for danger from potential complications, such as the spread of inflammation or an additional bacterial infection. These can secondarily cause an impairment of the entire organism and should be assessed by a physician and treated if necessary.

It can therefore be said that the sting of a Central European insect can be dangerous in the near future only in connection with the presence of a corresponding allergy, for example to wasps or bees. But even after a mosquito bite it can lead to an allergic reaction.


Local tissue injury, and possibly venom, or other substances (such as saliva) released by the insect during the sting will result in the release of messengers in the area of ​​the insect bite. These messengers then cause an inflammatory response. An important messenger at this point is histamine. The release of these so-called inflammatory mediators leads to the symptoms described. The redness and overheating is caused by the fact that the messenger substances cause a dilation of the vessels in the area of ​​the puncture site. In addition, more fluid from the interior of the vessel in the surrounding tissue occurs, whereby a swelling arises. Pain is caused by exposure of inflammatory mediators to so-called free nerve endings, which contain receptors for pain.

The perception of the pain is then transmitted to the brain via nerve fibers.

After an insect bite cells of the immune system are lured from the blood into the area of ​​the injection site. These serve, inter alia, to break down invaded foreign matter, such as the insect venom. In the area of ​​the puncture site, the release of larger amounts of histamine by so-called mast cells can lead to severe itching. Even localized, but in hypersensitivity also pronounced allergic reactions are possible. The latter may be an acutely life-threatening event due to circulatory involvement or swelling of the upper airway. Fortunately, such heavy courses are a very rare appearance.

You were stung and are afraid that it could be a dangerous insect? The following article will already explain how dangerous an Asian (Japanese) bush mosquito and the blackfly and its sting are.


The diagnosis of inflammation in insect bites is a visual diagnosis. As a rule, the patient himself makes the diagnosis by observing the signs of inflammation and possibly remembering an insect bite at the appropriate place. This is more difficult if you can not remember an insect bite or the symptoms do not seem to fit one at first sight. For example, an unnoticed insect bite may have served as a port of entry for bacteria, causing a pronounced infection of the skin, subcutaneous tissue or lymphatics. Then a doctor should be consulted who can make the diagnosis by examining and touching the relevant area. Furthermore, in this case, blood tests often supplement the diagnosis. As a rule, inflammation caused by a bacterial infection results in increased levels of inflammation in the blood.

Suspected tick-borne, bacterial disease, the so-called Lyme disease, is usually accompanied by the assessment of the injection site and its surroundings and the collection of certain blood levels.

Pictures of those affected

4 days old insect bite on the foot with redness, swelling and severe burning pain
4 days old insect bite on the left foot with redness, swelling and pain.
Skin redness after a 2-day-old mosquito bite.
2 days old insect bite on the arm with redness, burning pain and severe itching
clearly visible swelling after an insect bite.
1 day old mosquito bite of a conventional mosquito.
1 day old mosquito bite with visible wetness


Depending on how disturbing the symptoms are felt after an insect bite, no, or little supportive measures need to be taken. The treatment of an uncomplicated insect bite is symptomatic. Especially suitable are the cooling of the puncture site, for example with ice or quark envelopes. In addition, gels containing so-called antihistamines can also be applied topically. These reduce the symptoms of inflammation by reducing or preventing the action of the histamine, which is involved in the inflammatory response. As a rule, these measures for the symptomatic treatment of an insect bite are completely sufficient. In special cases and severe inflammatory reactions, antihistamines in tablet form or cortisone-containing medications may also be used. However, the doctor should decide on the use of these drugs.

Absolutely medical treatment must continue an inflammation then, if they are involved in the bacteria that have entered the skin after the insect bite. It may then be necessary to administer antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading and to reduce inflammation. Antibiotics are also used in cases of suspected tick-borne Lyme disease to prevent dreaded long-term complications.

Antibiotics in an inflamed insect bite

Infection and inflammation of an insect bite may occur when bacteria infect the wound. In order to fight such an inflammation, antibiotics should be taken, which either directly fight the bacteria or prevent their reproduction. It should be kept in mind that only a small part of insect bites are secondarily infected by bacteria.
Inflammations that can only be attributed to the body's own reaction to the sting can not be treated successfully by taking antibiotics. Even an allergic reaction may partially simulate an infection, but requires a different therapy than a bacterial infection.

Very strong redness, an open wound, pain, fever, as well as pus formation are indications that it is a bacterial infection. In this case, a doctor should be consulted, who can confirm the suspicion and prescribe the right antibiotic for the purpose. After the start of antibiotic therapy, the symptoms of bacterial inflammation should be significantly better within 2 days.
If after 48 hours no improvement has occurred or the symptoms are even worse, a doctor should be consulted again. To prevent the inflammation from flaring up again and to prevent the development of resistant bacteria, the antibiotics should always be taken until the end of the anticipated therapy.

Ibuprofen in an inflamed insect bite

Ibuprofen is a drug that has both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. The intake of ibuprofen in an inflamed insect bite, however, is usually not useful. The inflammation of the skin after an insect bite is a local reaction of the body. Therefore, local therapies usually suffice to treat the symptoms of insect bites. Since the intake of ibuprofen may be associated with some side effects, and ibuprofen has no causal effect on the bite, a systemic intake should not take place. Only then, if severe pain can occur through the bite, the intake of ibuprofen may be useful. However, these symptoms should be reported to a doctor as soon as possible to rule out an allergic reaction and infection or, if appropriate, initiate appropriate therapy.

Ointments in an inflamed insect bite

The symptoms that are most prominent in an inflamed insect bite are itching, swelling and redness. They are caused by histamine released by the body around the puncture site, a messenger substance of the immune system. Therefore, ointments containing antihistamines are suitable for treating these conditions. Furthermore, cooling contributes to alleviating the symptoms, since the puncture site is often overheated due to the inflammation. Some insect repellent ointments therefore contain a combination of several ingredients that work against both increased histamine release and cooling.

Home remedy for an inflamed insect bite

There are a number of different home remedies that promise relief in the symptoms of an insect bite. It should be noted, however, that inflammation caused by a bacterial infection always requires medical attention and should be treated with antibiotics. The symptoms of inflammation which occur as a body's reaction to the bite can be alleviated by some means.

To treat the swelling and overheating of the affected area of ​​the body, it is advisable to use ice packs or the like for cooling. The cooling of the stitch can in many cases already provide a significant improvement in symptoms.
Often a cut onion is recommended as a home remedy for insect bites. This can cool the body and therefore also promise relief. However, a therapeutic effect of the onion is not expected. Since the ingredients can irritate the skin and in the worst case even cause an infection, this home remedy should be replaced by a cool and moist envelope. This also applies to all oils and creams which are used as home remedies for the inflammatory reaction in insect bites.

Homeopathy for an inflamed insect bite

In addition to classical conventional medical therapy approaches against inflamed insect bites, the use of homeopathic remedies is available as an alternative therapy method. Depending on the literature, different remedies are recommended, which should provide relief for an insect bite.
However, it should be noted that an allergic reaction to an insect bite, or if the bite is affecting the respiratory tract, is a medical emergency requiring conventional medical treatment.
This also applies if there is a bacterial infection of the sting. In this case, taking antibiotics helps to fight the bacteria. Some practicing physicians offer both orthodox and homeopathic therapies and assess individually whether a homeopathic therapy is recommended in individual cases.


Since the inflammation in the insect bite is a normal response of the body to the sting and is usually localized, it usually comes within a short time to the complication-free regression of the inflammatory signs. Scarring is possible in particular in case of injuries of the skin by scratching. Bacterial infections of the insect bite require rapid medical treatment. The administration of antibiotics may be necessary to prevent the spread of the infection into the surrounding tissue and the whole body. The aim is the healing of the pronounced inflammation caused by the bacteria. Treated in good time, there is also a good prognosis in this situation. The same applies to the treatment of Lyme disease.


If it comes to an inflammation of an insect bite, the time can persist individually until the complete healing of the inflammation for different lengths. Significantly, the time to healing depends on the cause of the underlying inflammation and the therapy.
If it is the body's own inflammatory reaction, which occurs after each insect bite, and not a bacterial infection of the sting, the inflammation usually decreases after a few days and the site healed without consequences. The situation is different with inflammation, which is due to an agent. Rapidly initiated therapy can greatly reduce the duration of inflammation in this case.

Then you should see a doctor

If there is a bacterial infection or an allergic reaction, consult a doctor immediately.

Even if most insect bites heal by themselves without medical therapies, it may be necessary and useful in some cases to consult a doctor for clarification and therapy recommendation. This is especially the case when the insect bite causes an allergic reaction. Even if the stitch affects the respiratory tract, a doctor should be consulted. Inflammations associated with severe pain and / or fever and / or extensive redness or pus formation suggest a bacterial infection that should be treated with antibiotics. A doctor can confirm the diagnosis and recommend the appropriate drug. If an insect bite causes worse symptoms after 2 days, a doctor's visit is recommended.


The prevention of the inflammation in the insect bite is mainly in the prevention of the trigger, namely the engraving itself. Depending on the insect species, various measures may be useful. Fly screens, mosquito nets or the like can prevent insect bites in the home environment. Furthermore, sprays and lotions are available to keep insects from the body.

To mitigate the inflammatory response, the puncture site should be cooled as soon as possible. However, care must be taken not to allow strong cold to act directly on the bare skin in order to avoid icing.

Everyone knows how agonizing itching can be. Therefore, it is only understandable that it can be very difficult to withstand the relief of scratching. Nonetheless, it is very important for itchy insect bites to avoid scratching whenever possible.

Scratching creates small wounds that can then serve as a portal of entry for bacteria from the surrounding skin or external environment. In addition, scratching can cause cosmetically disturbing scars.

To relieve the itching and prevent the associated scratching, antihistamines can also be applied in the form of gels. These are available in the pharmacy without prescription.

Nonetheless, self-discipline remains a crucial contribution to avoiding insect bite complications.

Blood poisoning in an inflamed insect bite

The colloquial term of the blood poisoning is popularly used for two different clinical pictures. On the one hand it is a disease that affects the lymphatic vessels, on the other hand an inflammatory reaction affecting the whole body, sepsis.

In particular, the inflammation of the lymphatics in the body (lymphangitis) is a possible complication of an insect bite. Overall, however, only very few insect bites lead to lymphangitis. The disease is caused by bacteria, which cause the inflammation. The inflammation of the lymphatic vessels is noticeable through a painful red streak under the skin. By taking antibiotics, the cause of the inflammation can be treated well and the so-called "blood poisoning" can be treated.

Sepsis can also be caused by an insect bite. The probability for this is extremely low. It is a generalized inflammatory reaction, which is a life-threatening medical situation. Sepsis requires immediate medical attention in a hospital.

Inflamed insect bite on the ankle

The ankle is often the site of painful inflammation and insect bites.

The ankle is a common site for both insect bites and inflammation because of its location. In order to avoid inflammation at this point, rubbing on the footwear or trousers should be avoided. Already existing inflammations should also be padded in order not to hinder a healing by mechanical irritation.
In sore spots as part of an inflamed insect bite, the formation of a dressing may be useful to protect the wound from external agents and dirt.

Inflamed insect bite during pregnancy

The treatment of an inflamed insect bite differs only minimally between pregnant women and other people. If symptomatic therapy is unsuccessful, it is recommended that some analgesics and many antibiotics should not be taken during pregnancy.
However, an abscess caused by bacterial inflammation should be cleared away and treated with antibiotics during pregnancy. The attending physician should be informed about the pregnancy because of choosing the right medication.

Insect Bites and Stings | Insect Bites Treatment | How to Treat Insect Bites and Stings | 2018 (February 2020).

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