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What's Biting Me? — How to Tell What Type of Bug Bite You Have

Want to know what keeps biting you? Having a list of options comes in handy.

Ever wonder which bugs are biting you and causing itchy or painful bumps all over your body? Many bug bites are harmless, but knowing what bit you comes in handy when trying to prevent future bites, rid your home of bugs, or decide whether or not to get to a doctor.

1. Ticks

Live near a wooded area known to house ticks? If so, your bug bite could be from a tick. When ticks bite, they often stay put by attaching to your skin. To get it out, grasp a tick near its head with a pair of tweezers and slowly pull it straight out. If you’ve been bitten by a tick and develop symptoms of Lyme disease, see your doctor immediately. A “bulls-eye” looking rash at the bite site is a tell-tale sign of Lyme disease.

2. Bees

You’ll likely know you’ve been "bit" by a bee because of the stinging sensation you’ll experience. It’s often painful and causes immediate swelling at the sting site. If a bee bites you, make sure to get the bee’s stinger out of your skin (if still attached), and seek medical attention immediately if you experience signs of a severe allergic reaction (all-over body swelling, hives, and difficulty breathing).

3. Fleas

You may think of fleas as insects that only bites dogs and cats, but fleas can bite humans too. If you experience bug bites that appear as multiple small hard bumps clustered together on your body (generally found near skin that rubs against tight-fitting clothes), it could be from fleas. If so, check your pets, bedding, rugs, dirty clothes, etc. for fleas and flea eggs (very small crawling insects or salt and pepper-looking specs). Itchy skin is another tell-tale sign of having fleas.

4. Lice

Lice hang out (and bite you) near your scalp, and attach their eggs to hair. So if your scalp is feeling itchy, get checked for lice and lice eggs. You’ll be able to see lice crawling near your scalp, or see brownish-colored eggs (or small white-colored egg shells) attached to or near hair roots.

5. Fire Ants

You’ll know you’ve been bitten by fire ants because of the burning sensation and immediate pain that accompanies fire ant bites. The bites often swell up (sometimes raising up ½ inch), and you might notice a small amount of clear or white fluid near the center of the bite. Fire ant bites often become quite itchy when they heal.

6. Bed Bugs

Bedbugs cause itchy red bumps on your skin that may contain blisters. You’ll likely notice several bites in a row (small clusters or zigzag patterns) if you’ve been bitten by bed bugs, and these creatures are more active in warmer months.

7. Horse Flies

Fly bites are painful when they occur and often appear as itchy red bumps that sometimes contain small blisters. While horse fly bites may look like many other bug bites, they typically go away within a day or two.

8. Mosquitoes

Mosquito bites are fairly common, and usually quite itchy. These bites appear as small red mounds on your skin with tiny puncture marks in the middle. Mosquitoes can carry Zika virus, a dangerous virus that causes birth defects in babies. Symptoms of Zika to watch out for include rash, fever, headache, red eyes, joint pain and muscle pain.

9. Spiders

Many spider bites look like any other bug bite but can lead to pain at the bite site — or become dark blue or purple in the center. Some spider bites even evolve into open sores. If you’ve been bitten by a spider and experience breathing difficulty, severe pain, abdominal cramps, or growing ulcers (areas of open skin), it’s time to check in with your doctor.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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