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About Insect Bites

Insects typically bite to feed on blood. The bites themselves are not usually painful, but itchiness that results from the bites can cause discomfort.

It is particularly stressful when suffering from multiple or repeat insect bites. Many times this is the case with biting insects in the home, particularly from bed bugs or fleas.

However, your home can be treated to get rid of any biting insect and there are basic precautions that can significantly reduce the risks when outdoors.

Biting Insects and Your Health

Throughout the world, biting insects spread serious diseases such as Typhus, Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Yellow Fever, and Malaria. When visiting tropical countries, it's a good idea to plan vaccinations early and take precautions special care to avoid being exposed to biting insects.

However, in this country, it is rare for biting insects to transmit disease.

There is a small risk of contracting Lyme disease from ticks found on long grasses where there are deer or farm animals – follow the advice below for avoiding insect bites when outdoors.

The main risk from biting insects is the skin irritation caused by the bites. When insects bite, they inject saliva to ensure the blood flows without clotting. It is the immune response to this saliva that causes the irritation. Sometimes scratching the bites can lead to infections.

Sensitivity to Insect Bites

Insects seem to prefer biting some individuals more than others and human have different levels of sensitivity to bites. In general though, younger children and those who are bitten repeatedly are more sensitive.

Insect bites rarely require medical treatment. However, call an ambulance immediately if a bite causes swelling to the throat, mouth or tongue that restricts breathing.

There is more risk of an allergic reaction to insect stings (usually from wasps or bees) than insect bites. Again, call an ambulance if a sting is suspected and there are symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.

Treating Insect Bites

The most important treatment for an insect bite is to clean the wound.

If any insect debris has been left in the wound, remove carefully with fingernails or tweezers. Then clean the bite using soap and water or alcohol wipes.

Swelling can be reduced immediately after a bite by covering it with a cold compress such as ice in a cloth (but never hold ice directly on the skin).

The swelling from a bite may take more than a week to go down and may remain itchy for several days.

The itchiness and swelling can be relieved with antihistamine creams for bites and stings. Oral antihistamine (hay fever tablets) can also help, especially where there are multiple bites.

Try not to scratch bites as this will increase the itch and could lead to the bite becoming infected by bacteria.

Consult a doctor if:

  • The swelling or pain is so severe that it prevents moving around or sleeping
  • The swelling continues to worsen more than a day after the bite
  • The bite appears to be infected

Repeat bites such as those caused by a flea infestation can lead to sensitised skin and dermatitis. Consult a pharmacist or doctor for treatment.

Identifying Insect Bites

In most cases, it is difficult to identify the insect from its bite. Reactions to bites vary so much that it often leads to a misdiagnosis.

Generally it is more important to identify where the bite occurred and look for other indicators to identify the insect and ensure that the area can be treated or avoided to avoid future bites.

Biting Insects in the home

It can be distressing to have an infestation of biting insects in the home, but there is no need to tolerate them as there are treatments to deal with them.

In this country, the three most common sources of insect bites in the home are:

  • Mosquitoes

    • Usually bite after dusk, at night or early in the morning
    • Tend to be near slow-moving water
    • Often seen resting on ceilings and upper wall

  • Fleas

    • Associated with cats and dogs as pets
    • Often found when moving into a home that used to have pets
    • Will switch to biting humans when pets not present
    • Bites often clustered around ankles and lower legs

  • Ticks

    • Nocturnal insects that bite at night
    • Bites can be anywhere on the body
    • Small spots of blood left on bed linen
    • Staining of mattresses and surrounding areas

While these are the most common causes of insect bites in the home, there are many others - however they can all be treated.

Rentokil offers a call-out service to deal with all types of biting insect and other pest problems in the home. Our service is fast, effective and offers the highest level of safety for your family and pets.

If you would like further advice or to arrange arrange a visit from one of our service technicians, call us at 877-690-2115 or fill in our online form.

Outdoor Biting Insects

It is often difficult to identify when and where you were bitten, never mind the insect that bit you. If bitten, the best advice is to take steps not to let it happen again.

To avoid being bitten when outdoors:

  • Avoid wearing bright colours and strong scents such as perfumes and deodorants as these attract insects
  • Wear long sleeves, trousers, footwear and hats to reduce exposed skin
  • Use insect repellent sprays on exposed skin
  • Use insect repelling products or candles when sitting Avoid leaving sweet drinks and foods exposed
  • Avoid areas of still or stagnant water
  • Avoid brushing through long grass or bushes
  • Tuck trousers into socks when hiking through brush or rough grass

These precautions are especially important from dusk into the night when many biting insects are most active.

If you feel that your home or property has a problem with biting insects, don’t hesitate to call the Rentokil technicians. Call us at 877-690-2115 or use our online contact form to schedule an appointment today.

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