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Summer means more bug life in Tennessee, and with more bugs, come more bug bites and stings, especially if you enjoy spending time outdoors. Most bug bites are minor issues and resolve without having to seek serious medical treatment. However, there are some cases where you should seek medical attention from a dermatologist. If your reaction to bug bites or stings is severe enough you should seek emergency medical care.

Bed Bugs

    Bed bug bites can happen in Nashville, TN


Itchy red bites that often occur in a line. The bites usually form small bumps, and swelling may occur depending on how you react to them. Thankfully, bed bugs don’t carry disease, but they are still irritating and hard to get rid of.

As for where the bites occur, the bugs will bite any area of exposed skin. The back, face, shoulders, arms, legs, face, and neck are all common areas where bed bug bites occur.


When to Seek Derm Care

If you’re having a hard time managing the itchiness from the bites, dermatology treatment can help you manage those symptoms. Also, if the bites begin to blister or show signs of infection or an allergic reaction, you should seek dermatology care.


Fire Ants

Ant bites cause small bumps under the skin.


Fire ant bites are painful and stinging. You won’t miss them when they happen. However, because of the ant’s venom the site of the bite will present different symptoms depending on how strong your allergic reaction is.

Most of the time, the bite will become an itchy red welt that lasts anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. Once the welt goes away, a small pustule will develop as the body works to contain and release the venom. Even though these lesions will be itchy, you should not scratch, open, or pop them. If you do, there is a higher chance for developing serious skin infections.

In rarer cases, the area around the bite presents a large allergic reaction. These reactions present intense itching and pain, and will become hot and painful before the swelling subsides.

Finally, if you are extremely sensitive to ant bite venom, you may experience anaphylaxis. This is a medical emergency and patients should seek care at an Emergency Department.


When to Seek Derm Care

Topical care for red ant bites is the best way to manage your symptoms until the swelling and itching goes away. If the bites present intense swelling, swelling, redness, and pain, then a dermatologist or dermatology nurse practitioner can prescribe a topical steroid or an oral antihistamine to help relieve symptoms.



Mosquito bites during summer in Nashville Tennessee


Mosquito bites are pretty common in Tennessee. Typically a mosquito bite will become an itchy red welt from the female mosquito’s saliva. Mosquito saliva contains proteins that trigger an immune response from your body, which causes the swelling around the bite. 


How to Handle Itchy Mosquito Bites

Cleaning the bite around the bite with soap and water is a safe topical treatment that will help prevent further infection. You can also use pain relievers and antihistamines to manage the swelling and itching. 


When to Seek Dermatology Care for Mosquito Bites

In many cases, you won’t need dermatology care for mosquito bites. However, if you start getting headaches, or showing signs of a fever, you should talk to a doctor as you may be having an allergic reaction to a disease or other contaminant from the mosquito.


Flea Bites

Flea bites are small red dots on the skin.


Flea bites present itchiness immediately after the bite occurs. Around the bite will be a small red halo, and the bite itself will swell up slightly. If there are any bacteria or contaminants on your skin, they may enter your body through the bite wound and cause an infection. Redness, swelling, and blistering are common symptoms of an infected flea bite.


What to Do About Flea Bites

Immediately after you notice a bite, you should wash the area with soap and water. This will prevent any dirt and bacteria from causing an infection. Soothing itch creams and oral antihistamines are great ways to take care of mild symptoms.


When to Get Dermatology Care for Flea Bites

If the swelling and irritation in the bite area does not go away within a few days, then you should contact a dermatology expert to receive treatment. At Tennessee Telederm, dermatology nurse practitioner, Kristen Stirling, RN, APRN, and examine flea bite wounds and prescribe treatment to relieve your symptoms.




Chigger bites present as extremely itchy red spots in a random pattern localized to one area. The bites can be either flat or raised. Sometimes chigger bites also resemble blisters, pustules, welts, or hives. Because chiggers are so small, their initial bite is not always noticeable. However, irritating saliva from the bite will cause the area around the bite to swell and itch.


When to Seek Derm Care

Washing the area with soap and water is the first step to treating chigger bites. Also, if you notice a bite forming, washing the area will remove any other chiggers that may still be present. You can manage the symptoms of a chigger bite with anti-itch creams, calamine lotion, and antiseptics. You can also use ice to help reduce inflammation.

If these measures are not effective, then you should reach out to a dermatology practitioner.


Tick Bites

Tick bites in Nashville and Franklin, TN


Depending on the type of tick, there can be different symptoms. Normally, you will find the tick still attached to your skin until it’s removed. Some ticks will swell to the size of a small marble if they’re allowed to stay attached. 

Like other types of insect bites, ticks can leave allergen-laced saliva in your skin that will cause pain, swelling, itching, and even blistering. Symptoms may become worse if you try to remove the tick. If you don’t remove it properly, its head will try to stay attached to your skin and the rest of its body can break off. As the head stays attached to your skin, it can cause itchiness and even infection.


When to Seek Derm Care 

If the tick bite caused unmanageable pain, itching, swelling, or redness, you should see a dermatology practitioner to get help for relieving your symptoms. 

You should also know that certain types of ticks carry diseases such as Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These are serious diseases, and if you notice any symptoms you should see a doctor immediately.


How to recognize Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle soreness
  • Aching joints
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Heart palpitations
  • Facial palsy (numbness or paralysis) 
  • Swollen knees
  • Nerve pain


Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever also presents symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and loss of appetite. This fever is also known for presenting a rash with blackened and crusted skin around the original tick bite.


Black Flies


The initial fly bite will hurt and then leave you with a red itchy rash or welt. Thankfully, most fly bites do not spread serious diseases. However, there are some rare cases of fly bites spreading a bacterial disease called tularemia, which presents flu-like symptoms.


Bee Stings

Bee sting bug bite in Nashville


Bee stings are an initial painful sting, followed by redness and swelling after the venom enters your system. Honey bee stings usually leave a barbed stinger embedded in your skin, so they have to be removed in a very specific manner.

The amount of pain and swelling does vary from person to person. In extreme cases, bee stings can cause anaphylactic shock in people who are extremely sensitive to the bee’s venom. If a bee sting causes anaphylaxis, you should use an EpiPen immediately and seek emergency medical care.


Wasp Stings


Wasp, hornet, and yellowjacket stings are painful and can occur multiple times because unlike bees, these insects do not lose their sting. Also, these insects tend to be very aggressive and will follow you until you’re far enough away from their nest.


Lice Bites


Lice infestations cause itching, bite marks, and sores to develop on the area of your body where the lice have infested. You might also see nits, or the larval form of lice, clinging near the roots of your hair. You might also see the adult lice in your hair. 

You should seek dermatology care if you see scabs and dirt and debris around the infested area.


Can I Treat Bug Bites at Home?

You might have noticed that many symptoms of bug bites and stings are manageable with simple over-the-counter medication and ointments. However, if your symptoms become severe, or do not improve with time and simple first aid, you should seek professional treatment.


Online Dermatology Appointments for Bug Bites and Stings

If you’re concerned about a bug bite or sting this summer, you can see an online dermatology provider within just a few days with our appointments. Visit our Get Started page to book your appointment, create a patient profile, submit pictures, and ask questions. 

Have questions or comments, or want to book an appointment?

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