Fleas are small, wingless, agile insects that live off the blood of their host — and they don’t just bite pets. They dine on people, too.
Some people are very sensitive to flea bites — but scratching can cause a wound or infection. The best solution is to get rid of fleas on pets and in your home. Keep pets out of your bed and be sure to vacuum rugs daily. Spray insecticides on infested areas. Consider using a once-a-month insecticide on your pet.
6. Bee, Wasp, Hornet, Yellow Jacket
When a bee stings, it loses the stinger and dies. But a wasp, hornet, or yellow jacket can inflict multiple stings because it does not lose the stinger. These stings can cause serious reactions in people who are allergic to them.
If you don’t have an allergic reaction, simply remove the stinger, clean the sting site, apply ice, take oral antihistamine for itching, and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain relief. If you have a severe anaphylactic reaction, lie down and carefully remove the stinger. Use an EpiPen (epinephrine) if you have one. Get immediate medical care.
Their name tells the tale, as these tiny insects tend to hide in bedding. They are often found in hotels, shelters, and apartment complexes — and can hitch a ride into your home aboard luggage, pets, and boxes.
Bedbugs leave itchy, red bites on the skin, usually on the arms or shoulders. More of a nuisance than a health hazard, it is possible to develop an infection from scratching. If you have an allergic skin reaction, use creams with corticosteroids and take oral antihistamines — and see your doctor.
8. Fire Ants
Fire ants look much like ordinary ants — and are found in most of the Southeastern states. They produce large mounds in open areas and are aggressive when disturbed. During an attack, the fire ant latches onto the skin with its jaw, then stings from its abdomen. It may inject venom many times.
The fire ant sting typically causes red hive-like lesions that burn and itch. Painful pus-filled lesions can also occur. Cold packs, pain relievers, and antihistamines can help relieve the discomfort. A large number of stings may trigger a toxic or severe life-threatening allergic reaction. Get emergency care.
Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying. Scratching a bite can cause a skin infection. Also, mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus, dengue fever, and other diseases. To protect yourself from mosquitoes, apply insect repellent and cover up when you go outdoors. Use window screens, and get rid of standing water in your yard.
Contrary to popular belief, chiggers are not insects; they are arachnids. Specifically, chiggers are the juvenile (or larval) form of a family of mites called Trombiculidae. They only dine on humans in their juvenile form, they later become vegetarians as adults. Their bites are painless, but lesions are very itchy. Itching usually peaks a day or two after the bite occurs.
After a few days of being attached to the skin, chiggers fall off — leaving itchy red welts. Over-the-counter products can help relieve itching. See your doctor if the skin appears infected or the welts appear to be spreading.