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Insect bites

Related Terms

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Background

  • In general, biting insects themselves are not dangerous because allergic reactions are rare. However, many insects (like mosquitoes and ticks) can transmit diseases like malaria, Lyme disease, and the West Nile virus to humans.
  • This is because many insects inject their saliva into the host when they bite. While insect's saliva may aid in digestion, inhibit clotting, increase blood flow to the area bitten or anesthetize (numb) the bite site, it may also contain disease-causing organisms.
  • The mouthparts of biting insects can be classified into three groups: piercing and/or sucking, sponging, and biting/chewing. Most insect bites cause minor puncture wounds to the skin.
  • Deaths associated with insect bites are typically a result of hypersensitivity, either anaphylactic (allergic) or anaphylactoid (non-allergic) or from complications resulting from infection. While the exact incidence rate remains unknown, researchers estimate that between 50 and 150 Americans die each year from insect-provoked anaphylaxis. Mosquito bites cause the greatest number of deaths worldwide because they transmit diseases like malaria and the West Nile virus. Malaria is prevalent in tropical and subtropical areas, such as Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America, and Central America.
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Types of Insect Bites

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Complications

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Insect Repellants

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.