Insect Bites Won't Heal: Why and What to Do

Whether you're on a mountain trail, in the water or in your backyard, you just cannot always protect yourself from an insect bite. You shouldn't be complaining about it; after all, you're entering their territory and they have to defend themselves. It's common to get insect bites, but it is not very common to have an insect bite that won't heal. It could be a sting of a yellow jacket or a wasp, but you may notice that it isn't healing well. Keep reading to learn more about why you have a bug bite that won't heal.

Why Won't Your Insect Bite Heal?

Sometimes, an itchy bump on leg won't go away easily. These insect bites sometimes don't heal properly due to many different reasons.

1. Secondary Bacterial Infection

You may be dealing with a secondary bacterial infection after an insect bite or sting. These infections include impetigo, an infection causing blisters and sores; cellulitis, an infect making your skin look swollen, red and painful; folliculitis, an infection causing inflammation of your hair follicles; and lymphangitis, an infection leading to swollen lymph nodes. An infection develops when you scratch an insect sting or bite. You may have to take antibiotics for an insect bite that won't heal.

2. Lyme Disease

Ixodesricinus, a species of tick, causes the infection that produces a red rash on the site of the bite that expands outwards over time. You may acquire this disease if you spend a lot of time in heath areas where tick-carrying animals like mice and deer live. If left untreated, the disease can affect your nervous system and lead to facial palsy, asmeningitis and encephalitis.

3. West Nile Virus

Spread mainly by mosquitoes, the infection will produce flu-like symptoms. It is usually a common sighting in most parts of the world where mosquitoes are plentiful – there have been no cases reported in the UK though.

4. Malaria

It's the infection of your red blood cells, caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum and transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. This tropical disease affects about 1,500 UK travelers every year.

5. Staph Infection

An insect bite that won't heal could be the outcome of a staph infection. staph infection is caused by staphylococcus bacteria, which are usually present even in healthy individuals. You may notice issues, like bites won't heal, when the bacteria penetrate deeper into your body and even enter your joints, bloodstream, lungs, bones and even heart.

6. Skeeter Syndrome

Caused mainly by polypeptides found in the saliva of mosquitoes, this allergic reaction is non-contagious but produces certain symptoms including swelling, red lumps on the bite site, itchiness, blisters and bruises. Sometimes, it may lead to asthma, anaphylaxis or angioedema.

What to Do for an Insect Bite That Won't Heal

If an insect bite won't heal, you should take it seriously and try some home remedies and treatments to fix the issue.

1. General Treatments

Here's what you can do to relieve pain, swelling and redness.

  • There are ways to treat an insect bite, but it is always better totake steps to prevent it in the first place. Wear clothes with long sleeves and use insect repellants when you are out in the wild.
  • Use an icepack on the site of your bite for about half an hour. Repeat after every hour for 6 hours at least. Keep your bite cool for the first 6 hours. Make sure to use a cloth on your skin to avoid direct contact between your skin and the icepack.
  • Keep the area elevated to keep swelling under control or try OTC medication to relieve swelling, redness and itching.
  • Take an antihistamine such as Chlor-Trimeton or Benadryl to control swelling and itching. You may also consider using a spray of local anesthetic to relieve pain. Avoid it though if it reacts with your skin. Don't give antihistamines to young kids.
  • Apply hydrocortisone 1% cream on the bite to relieve redness and itching. Avoid using the cream on kids younger than age 2.

2. Treatment for Skeeter Syndrome

If you're noticing redness, swelling and other symptoms due to skeeter syndrome, you may want to try the following treatment options.

  • Use oral antihistamines or corticosteroids to relieve burning sensation, pain and itching.
  • Take cetirizine hydrochloride daily to prevent mosquito bites, especially in summers.
  • Light an aroma lamp in your room using essential oils such as juniper berry, lavender or citronella to repel mosquitoes.
  • Try mosquito repellents with DEET to protect yourself from mosquitoes and keep an infection from developing in the first place.

3. Treatment for Staph Infection

If you're dealing with staph infection, your doctor may stick to the following treatment regime.

  • Antibiotics: Taking antibiotics is your first line of defense. Your doctor may give you nafcillin, cephalosoporins or related antibiptics, vancomycin or sulfa drugs to treat your infection. Vancomycin is usually a better choice because many strains of staph bacteria don't respond to traditional antibiotics. Be sure to take your medications as prescribed or you will see the infection becoming worse.
  • Wound drainage: When a skin infection develops, it sometimes becomes important to drain your wound to get rid of the fluid collected underneath your skin. This helps clear the infection quickly.

Note: In case you have an insect bite that won't heal or is causing swelling, pain and persistent lumps, you should waste no time to consult your doctor for further evaluation.


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