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What bit me?

What bit me?

I give a prior health warning before you begin reading this blog that it is unlikely you will be able to read much further without developing an uncontrollable urge to itch.

How many times have you suddenly found yourself scratching a painful, irritating, red lump and wondering what on earth has bitten you?

Our handy guide might just be able to help identify the creature which has decided to snack on you and also give you some tips on treating it too.

Wasp sting*

Wasps will only sting if they feel threatened, which is why it is best to sit calmly rather than waving your hands around like an over-enthusiastic, relative dancing at a wedding after one to many sherries!

The sting is usually quite painful and you will develop a raised welt with a tiny white mark in the middle where the wasp’s stinger has punctured your skin.

Most people experience minor symptoms, such as pain, redness and swelling which will subside after a few days.

Bee sting

Bee sting

Bee sting*

Bee stings look very similar to wasp stings except the bee will leave it’s barbed sting in your skin.

Sadly it dies shortly after it has stung you.

The sting needs to be removed to prevent infection. You can gently scrape it out using a credit card, or something similar. Do not squeeze as this will push the venom further into your skin.

You are likely to experience pain, swelling, redness and itchiness around the sting for several days.

Tick bite

Tick bite


These are particularly nasty little critters, which latch onto your skin and suck your blood.

The bites don’t hurt but you will see what looks like an apple pip attached to your skin, which is the tick and needs to be removed.

Do not squeeze or twist the tick as it can leave its mouth parts attached to your skin, which can cause infection. Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible with a pair of small tweezers and pull upwards.

Ticks can spread Lyme Disease, so if you are showing any symptoms or develop a circular rash spreading out from the area you were bitten, then seek medical advice.

Mosquito bite

Mosquito bites

Mosquito bites*

Many an evening sat outside enjoying the balmy Summer weather can be totally spoiled by mosquitos.

They leave behind a telltale red bump which is incredibly itchy and can swell up.

The reaction is caused as most people are allergic to the mosquito’s saliva and the swelling and itching is the body’s immune system responding.

Midges and gnats*

A bite from one of these delightful creatures results is very similar to a mosquito bite.

You will be left with a red, painful spot, or spots, that can itch intensely and swell up alarmingly.

Bed Bugs*

Their bites cause small, itchy red bumps and, unfortunately, for some people these can develop into infected blisters.

You are most likely to be bitten on exposed areas such as your face, neck, hands or arms.


Did you know horseflies don’t actually bite you but cut your skin and then enjoy feasting on your blood? Nice, heh!

You are likely to feel a sharp, burning sensation after you have been bitten. The bite will quickly become inflamed and extremely itchy. Some people even develop a bruise.


Like most insects, ants will only bite if they feel threatened. Only certain ants actuallu bite, including the red, wood and flying ants.

They do not have much toxin in their bites so you are unlikely to have many symptoms beyond a small, pale pink mark.


In the UK, where Science of Skin is based, most spiders are pretty harmless. You can tell you have been bitten by a spider as you will see the puncture marks on your skin.

Spider bites are painful, red and can swell up.

Treating insect bites

  • Remove any stings or ticks from the skin.
  • Wash with soap and water.
  • Soothe and calm your skin with our Solution for Bites treatment. It contains our active green tea extract, EGCG, which is scientifically-proven to reduce inflammation.
  • Apply a cold compress or an ice pack to any swelling for at least 10 minutes.
  • Raise the affected area
  • Avoid scratching to reduce the risk of infection
  • NHS Direct advises over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (children under 16 years of age shouldn’t be given aspirin).


According to NHS Direct, you can develop serious allergic reactions to insect bites including:

  • severe swelling of the face, lips, or throat
  • hives or itching in areas of the body not affected by the sting
  • breathing difficulties, such as wheezing or gasping
  • dizziness
  • sudden drop in blood pressure
  • lightheadedness
  • loss of consciousness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps
  • weak or racing pulse

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.


Accessed on 12/04/17

Accessed on 12/04/17

Accessed on 12/04/17

Accessed on 12/04/17


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