Types of bug bites on skin & how essential oils can help

Types of bug bites on skin; Mosquito biting the skin

Insects are an inevitable part of our environment, and with them come the unpleasant experience of bug bites. There are different types of bug bites on skin, each with its own set of symptoms and reactions. Some of the most common bug bites include mosquito bites, tick bites, flea bites, and bed bug bites. These bites can cause itching, swelling, redness, and in some cases, severe allergic reactions.

Essential oils extracted from plants have healing properties that have been in use since hundreds of years ago. They offer a safe and effective alternative to traditional treatment, including bug bites. In this article, we will have a look into the different types of bug bites on skin and what essential oils can help with symptomatic relief.

How to tell what type of bug bite you have

It can be difficult to tell what kind of bug bite you have, especially if you did not see the bug that bit you. However, there are a few things you can look for to help identify what kind of bug bite you have.

  • Appearance: The appearance of the bite can give you clues about the type of bug that bit you.
  • Symptoms: The symptoms of a bug bite can also vary depending on the type of bug.
  • Location: Some bugs are more likely to bite in certain areas of the body.

Bug bites are a common occurrence, especially during the summer months. A variety of insects cause them, and they cause different symptoms consequence. To help you identify the kind of bug bite you have, here are important facts and pictures of the different types of bug bites and stings on human skin.

Different types of bug bites on skin

Tick bites

Tick bite on human skin

Ticks are small, eight-legged arachnids that can transmit diseases to humans and animals. Their bites are usually painless but cause an itchy red, raised bump or swelling on the bite area. They commonly bite at areas like the scalp, back of the neck, groin, and legs, and their bites usually do not appear in groups.

Mosquito bites

Mosquito bites on a girl's right arm

These are caused by female mosquitoes, which are winged insects that feed on human blood using its proboscis. Mosquitoes are known carrier of microbes that cause dangerous and often fatal diseases like dengue, malaria, and yellow fever.

Symptoms of mosquito bites include small, raised, puffy round bumps that appear immediately after the bite. The bite is itchy and red, and swollen. These bites may appear in groups or alone.

Bee, wasp, and hornet stings

Bee sting on human skin

Bee stings are caused by honeybees. It appears as a red welt with slight swelling around it, with a central puncture from the bee sting. These are more painful than bites. and can cause symptoms of severe allergic reaction.

Wasp sting on elbow area

On the other hand, wasp stings cause only minor symptoms. These include severe pain at the sting site, swelling, itching, and redness. It usually manifests with a welt that extends beyond the stung area. However, it can also cause allergic reactions for some people. Moreover, wasps can sting multiple times because unlike bees, their stingers remain attached after being used.

Swollen hornet sting on a boy's shoulder

Hornets, meanwhile, are a type of wasps. Mild symptoms accompany their stings, but they can also cause allergic reactions since their venom contains histamine, a chemical that causes inflammation. They can sting multiple times and their symptoms include swelling, redness, and itchiness on the sting site. They can also cause warmth, pain, and hives near the sting site.

Horse flies

Horsefly bite on a woman's leg

Horseflies are insects that are large, dark in color, and have large eyes. Their bites are usually not dangerous, but they are very painful and they heal slow. They do not inject any anesthetic when they bite using their saw-like mouth parts and they stop blood from clotting using a substance. Symptoms of a horsefly bite include swelling around the bite and welts.

Symptoms like rash, weakness, dizziness may also occur. There may also be swelling on another part of the body aside from the bite area. Aside from these symptoms, horsefly bites may also cause anthrax, tularemia, and trypanosomiasis.

Black flies (Biting Gnats)

Blackfly bite on human skin

Female black flies bite to feed on blood. They are active during the day, and their bites look like a red weal around a punctured center. Their bites are itchy and painful due to an inflammatory response to the blood thinners and toxins they inject when they bite.

Spider bites

Spider bites may be caused by different species of spiders, including the brown recluse spider and black widow spider. Their bite marks usually have two punctures indicative of their pincer-like jaws.

Brown recluse spider bites

Brown recluse spider bite

Also known as fiddleback and violin spiders, these spiders can be identified by their characteristic violin-shaped mark on their back side. They have venom that can destroy tissues, including the skin and muscles. Their bite can be fatal due to the nature of their venom and their potential of getting infected.

You can identify a brown recluse spider bite when you have symptoms like itchy skin, nausea, vomiting, fever, and when the area around the bite looks like it is dying.

Black widow spider bite

Black widow spider bite on human finger

Black widow spiders vary in appearance. The females have a shiny black color with a red-orange hourglass mark on their abdomen, while the males are brown/gray with small red spots. The spiders are poisonous and their bites present with symptoms like that of other medical problems.

Black widow spider bites present with symptoms like pain, burning, itchiness, rashes, swelling, redness, dizziness, headache, restlessness, and tearing. The person may also experience swelling on the eyelids, salivation, nausea/vomiting, weakness, paralysis, or tremors.

Bedbug bites

Bedbug bites on forearm

Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) are small insects that usually bite at night on the exposed skin areas like the legs, arms, neck, and face. They like carbon dioxide and warm bodies, and they feed on the blood of mammals and birds.

The saliva of bedbugs contain the nitrophorin, which widens blood vessels, and anticoagulants to stop blood from clotting. It also has an anesthetic, which is why a person cannot feel the bite while it is happening.

The symptoms show immediately once the person is awake or up to 10 days after the bite, and they include firm, red or purpuric bumps, welts, or large blisters that are inflamed and itchy. The lesions may have a central hemorrhagic punctum.

These bites also have a characteristic linear series which often have three bites, also known as “breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” The size, itching intensity, and tendency toward vesiculation of bedbug bites increase with repetition.

Fire ant bites

Fire ant bites on a man's foot

These ants have several species, and they have venomous stings. Fire ants usually bite the lower leg area, and there might be multiple bites. Symptoms include burning, itching welts. There is a wheal and flare reaction at first, then it progresses to a circular blister, which may develop into looking like they’re filled with pus although not infected.

The reaction to fire ant bites is usually local, but systemic reaction may also occur. This can include symptoms like diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting.

Flea bites

Flea bites on human skin

Fleas are very small insects that cause skin disease in animals, feeding on the blood of their hosts. They do not have wings and they move from one host to another by jumping. Their bites are itchy small, red bumps that appear on groups, clustered or in a line. They usually bite on the legs (feet, ankles, and calves).

See related: Allergic reaction skin rash treatment

What essential oil is good for itching bug bites?

Essential oils can be an effective way of treating the symptoms of bug bites and stings, having natural anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the immune system’s reaction. Here are some essential oils for bug bite itch that you can apply onto your skin.

Chamomile and chamomile essential oil

Chamomile essential oil: This study proves that chamomile essential oil has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities. It also has strong wound healing properties, this study shows. These properties can help reduce the redness, itching, and irritation that comes with bug bites and stings. Moreover, it speeds up their healing and recovery, helping reduce the risk of infection and scarring.

Lavender beside a bottle of lavender essential oil

Lavender essential oil: This is a strong remedy for inflammation, pain, and swelling, according to this study. We can use lavender essential to soothe the itch, relieve the pain, and reduce the swelling of insect bites and stings. Additionally, this study proves that lavender essential oil can make the wound healing process faster. It replaces collagen, a protein that makes up the skin, and promotes wound contraction.

Lemongrass Essential Oil in Natural Background

Lemongrass essential oil: This essential oil is also a potent anti-inflammatory, this study shows. By fighting inflammation, it reduces swelling, redness, itching, and pain caused by insect bites and stings. Additionally, lemongrass essential oil has strong wound healing activities, as shown by this study on ICR mice.

Tea tree essential oil and tea tree

Tea tree oil: According to this study, tea tree oil is a natural antihistamine, which means it can reduce the skin inflammation that histamine causes. Histamine is a chemical in the body that causes allergy and inflammation symptoms. In addition, this study gives evidence that tea tree oil decreases wound healing time. This can be helpful if the kind of bite you have develops into an open sore or ulcer, or if you scratched the affected area and caused skin damage.

Cinnamon Essential Oil

Cinnamon essential oil: This essential oil is an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, this study proves. This means it can reduce swelling and inflammation caused by the bug bite. This study also shows that cinnamon essential oil calms down and heals irritated skin, repels insects Anopheles stephensi and protects the skin longer than 2.5% DEET.

See related: CANhaveTODAY’s Natural Skin Products for Skin Nourishment

Waters Mist: a salve for the types of bug bites on skin

Waters Mist new product photo

You don’t need to worry about choosing which essential oil to use nor stress out looking for a product that has them. CANhaveTODAY got them all for you in one soothing salve that is Waters Mist!

Waters Mist is a salve that is all-natural and cruelty free. Its main ingredients are lemongrass essential oil, tea tree oil, and cinnamon essential oil. It also contains essential oils of chamomile and lavender, making it especially effective for insect bites!

This salve offers cooling freshness and a soothing sensation that can relieve your symptoms like itch, swelling, rashes, and pain. It also helps prevent and treat skin infections and assists with a faster wound healing process. After a patch test, apply Waters Mist to the affected area and experience the relief this salve has in store for your skin. A quick note: This product contains Sodium borate. The government of Canada does not recommend the use of products containing Sodium borate on open wounds, cuts, or abrasions.

Learn more about Waters Mist and its properties that can help your skin by reading the table below.

 Waters Mist
 Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
AntibacterialMild to Strong [1,2]Strong [25]Strong [42]
– AcneMild to Moderate [3]Strong [26]Strong [42]
– CellulitisMild to Strong [1,2,4]Strong [42]
– ItchMild to Strong [1,2,3]Strong [42]
– Skin infectionsMild to Strong [1,2,3]Mild to Strong [27]Strong [42]
Anti-inflammatoryStrong [5]Strong [28]Moderate to Strong [43]
   – AcneMild to Moderate [3]Strong [26]Strong [42]
   – SwellingStrong [5]Strong [28]Strong [118]
AntifungalStrong [5,6]Mild to Strong [29]Moderate to Strong [44]
   – Athlete’s foot (Foot itch)Strong [7,8]Strong [29]Moderate to Strong [45]
   – ItchStrong [9,10]Moderate to Strong [42]
AntimicrobialMild to Strong [1,2]Strong [30,25,31]Strong [42]
Antioxidant (fights skin damage and aging)Strong [11,2]Strong [32,33,25]Moderate to Strong [46]
AntiparasiticStrong [12,13]Mild to Moderate [34]Strong [47]
Antispasmodic (relieves muscle spasms)Strong [14]Mild to Moderate [35]
Insecticidal (Kills insects)Strong [15]Strong [36]Strong [48]
Moisturizing (for dry and/or cracked skin)Moderate to Strong [16]Moderate to Strong [49]
Reduces bruisingModerate to Strong [17]StrongStrong [50]
Reduces celluliteStrong [18]
Reduces hyperpigmentationModerate to Strong [19]Mild to Moderate [37]Strong [51]
Reduces or relieves painStrong [20]Strong [28,38]
Repels InsectsStrong [21,22,23]Moderate to Strong [39,40]Strong [48]
Treats cramps
Heals woundsStrong [24]Strong [41]Moderate to Strong [52]
Table 1. Properties of the main ingredients in CANhaveTODAY’s Waters Mist.


Why do bug bites itch more at night?

Bug bites itch more at night due to lesser distraction, increased blood flow, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

How long does it take for bed bug bites to show?

Bed bug bites can show immediately upon waking up or up to days after the bite.

What helps bug bites?

Several home remedies can help alleviate bug bites, including ice packs, calamine lotion, and essential oils like those from chamomile, lavender, and tea tree.

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