Bites and Infestations: Pictures of Bug Bites, Stings, Allergies, and Infections

Scabies Rash

Scabies is an infection caused by a mite that burrows under the skin causing red, itchy bumps.

Many of us hesitate at the sight of bugs, insects, and spiders. Once you've been bitten or stung, your reaction may range from “ouch” and minor itching to infection or allergic reaction concerns and even emergency medical care. Learning to identify what a bite or sting looks like and how it feels can help you and your family determine whether home treatment or professional medical help is needed. This article will take a look at scabies, bed bugs, bees, tick, spiders, mosquitoes, lice, more and even some sea creatures that bite and sting.

Scabies is an infection caused by a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. The mites burrow under the skin causing red, itchy bumps. Closer examination of the skin with a magnifying glass reveals lines under the skin, which are produced by the mites burrowing. Scabicide medications are used to treat the infestation.

Scabies Pictures

Scabies infections appear as red, bumpy, itchy skin rashes.

Scabies infection appears as a red, bumpy, itchy rash on the skin. It is caused by infection by the human itch mite, Sarcoptes scabiei. The mites burrow deep into the skin leaving tell-tale red lines (burrows) that are visible with a magnifying glass. The mites may favor the skin on the fingers and arms and any area covered by jewelry or clothing. Scabies infection is treated with scabicide medications.

Scabies Symptoms

Scabies can cause burrows, pustules, papules, and vesicles

The picture shows red, raised nodules characteristic of scabies infection in a young child. Other skin features that occur with scabies include burrows, pustules, papules, and vesicles. Patches of crusty skin areas may be evident.

Scabies Burrows

Burrows are represented by slightly raised white to light-brown linear lesions.

This figure illustrates burrows that are diagnostic of scabies. Burrows are represented by slightly raised white to light-brown linear lesions. The superficial part of the burrow has a scaly appearance, and at the distal end there may be a tiny black dot representing the mite, eggs, and/or fecal material (scybala) in a small vesicle.

Bed Bug Picture

Bed bugs cause itchy bites and infest bedding, furniture, and other household objects.

Bed bugs are insects that cause itchy bites and hard-to-treat infestations of bedding, furniture, clothing, and other household objects. Bed bugs range from translucent to reddish-brown in color. They are oval-shaped and one-quarter of an inch long as adults. Bed bugs are small and flat, so they can invade a variety of spaces. They may hide in cracks, joints, and small spaces of furniture, wall hangings, and electrical appliances. Bed bugs may also like to take up residence under cushions or wallpaper.

Bed Bug Bites

Bed bugs leave red, itchy bites -- usually in rows -- on their victims.

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, brown insects that feed off the blood of animals and people. Bed bugs leave red, itchy bites -- usually in rows -- on their victims. Bed bug bites may resemble bites from other insects like chiggers or mosquitos. The rash may resemble other conditions such as hives or eczema. Bed bug infestations can be hard to identify. Bed bugs may leave reddish stains, dark spots, or pale yellow eggs on bedding and infested materials. Bed bug infestations are on the rise as people unknowingly transfer the bugs in and on luggage, boxes, clothing, and furniture.

Lyme Disease Rash

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by bacteria.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Ticks harboring the bacteria are found most often on deer, raccoons, weasels, moles, squirrels, horses, field mice, opossums, skunks, and shrews. Most cases of Lyme disease are reported in the northeastern United States in Connecticut, New York, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Wisconsin.

Initial symptoms of Lyme disease may include a red, expanding bulls-eye rash, fatigue, fever, chills, headache, and swollen lymph nodes. Muscle and joint pain may also be present. Later stages of Lyme disease may manifest with neuropathy, nerve problems, and arthritis. Knee pain may be a symptom of advanced Lyme disease.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Some people infected with Lyme disease develop a characteristic bulls-eye rash.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection caused by the spirochete bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. Hard-bodied Ixodes ticks transmit the infection. Lyme disease is endemic in many parts of the United States. Some people infected with Lyme disease develop a characteristic bulls-eye rash called erythema migrans. The tick bite is the central area from which the rash migrates outward. The rash may be evident on other parts of the body as well. Other symptoms that may occur along with the rash include burning or itching at the bite location, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and malaise. Early Lyme disease often responds well to antibiotic treatment.

In later stages, Lyme disease may cause more serious, systemic illness. Symptoms in this stage may include neurological dysfunction, joint pain, and cardiac conduction problems. Current testing for Lyme disease is often insufficient for many reasons. Many cases of Lyme disease go undiagnosed and inadequately treated.

Tick Bite Rash

A lump like this may persist for several months after a tick bite.

This picture shows an inflamed lump (papulonodular lesion) that has developed on the scalp after a tick bite. The lesion is itchy and scaly. Scratching may result in a secondary bacterial infection. Corticosteroids may be applied topically or injected into the area to decrease itching, pain, and inflammation. A lump like this may persist for several months after a tick bite. Biopsy may be necessary to properly diagnose and treat the lesion.

Mite Bites (Rickettsialpox)

Rickettsialpox is a crusty, scab-like lesion with a red halo that occurs at the site of a mite bite.

Rickettsialpox (t√Ęche noire) is a crusty, scab-like lesion with a red halo that occurs at the site of a mite bite. The lesion is caused by the Rickettsia akari bacteria that is harbored by mites that are associated with rodents. Fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, rash, muscle pain, headache, and sweating may be associated with the condition.

Bee Stings, Wasp Stings, Hornet Stings

Stings from bees and related insects are the ones most likely to cause potentially serious medical problems or even death.

There are many different types of insects that can bite or sting. The stings of members of the Hymenoptera family -- bees (honey bees, Africanized killer bees, bumble bees), ants, and wasps (hornets, yellow jackets, paper wasps) -- are most likely to cause potentially serious medical problems or even death. These insects live in colonies. If you are stung by one, others may not be far behind and repeated stings are possible.

Black Widow Spider Bite

The black widow bite may or may not be visible as one or two puncture wounds on the skin.

The black widow is a venomous spider with a potentially dangerous bite. The bite may or may not be visible as one or two puncture wounds on the skin. A bite may initially go unnoticed and produce no symptoms. Some people feel pain soon after a black widow spider bite. Black widow spider venom affects the nervous system, and common symptoms include abdominal pain, muscle cramps, weakness, and tremors. Profuse sweating, fever, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing may occur in severe cases.

Symptoms and symptom severity after a black widow spider bite vary considerably. Those with underlying health problems, the elderly, children, and those with compromised immune systems may suffer more severe consequences due to a black widow spider bite.

Brown Recluse Spider Bite

People often don't notice when they are first bitten by a brown recluse spider, as it is usually painless.

A brown recluse spider is a venomous spider that has a violin-shaped marking on its head. The spiders are most common in the Midwest and the South. Brown recluse spider bites are often painless, which can lead to a delay in treatment. Within hours of a bite, redness and a 'bull's-eye" rash may appear. In the ensuing ensuing hours, the tissue at the center of the bite may begin to sink, form an ulcer, and die. This so-called necrotized tissue has a blue-black appearance. The majority of brown recluse spider bites do not cause significant tissue damage.

Brown Recluse Bite Symptoms

The brown recluse is one of the few spiders that is truly dangerous to humans.

The brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is a venomous spider with a potentially painful bite. About 10% of bites from these spiders cause necrosis (tissue death). The area of the bite can be ulcerated. The toxins in the bite produce fever, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, itching, and pain at the site of the bite.

Carpet Beetle Bites

Sometimes carpet beetles can irritate human skin.

Carpet beetles are not common insects in homes and buildings where good hygiene predominates. Rarely, sensitized individuals may develop dermatitis due to the insects crawling over the skin. The hairy legs of carpet beetles may puncture the skin, leading to an intensely itchy rash with papulovesicular lesions (raised bumps or blisters). The lesions may blister as shown in the picture.

Fire Ant Bites and Stings

One of the most painful insect stings comes from fire ants.

Fire ant stings cause intensely itchy red lesions that resemble hives. The areas affected by bites can develop blisters that later may become filled with pus. Fire ant stings may cause uncomfortable burning that can be relieved by over-the-counter pain relievers. Antihistamines and cold packs can also provide relief. Some people may have life-threatening reactions to fire ant stings causing anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic reactions require emergency medical treatment.

Fire Ant Stings

Fire ants latch onto their victims with a bite, then sting them, causing painful welts.

Fire ant stings are apparent on this child 24 hours after the injury. Redness, pain, and swelling occur at the sites of the stings. The stings look like flat red lesions (macules) and solid raised bumps (papules), some of which may contain pus (pustules).

Flea Bites on Humans

Fleas can cause some sensitive people much itching and pain.

Flea bites can cause uncomfortable reactions in people who are sensitive to them. It is important to avoid scratching flea bites to reduce the risk of wounds and infections. Vacuuming daily, treating pets with insecticide, and keeping pets out of the bedroom can reduce the risk of flea bites.

Head Lice Bite Picture

The bane of school children everywhere, head lice can cause itching, tingling, irritability, and sores.

Head lice are parasites known as Pediculus humanus capitis. Eggs and young lice are called nits. They live on the hair shafts on the scalps of people who are infested. Sometimes, head lice occur on other hairs of the body, such as eyebrows or eyelashes. Head lice can easily infect other hosts by jumping on to new victims who are in close proximity. Lice can also be transferred to others on clothing or objects. School-aged children and their families are often affected by head lice. Symptoms may include itching, tingling, irritability, and sores. Lice are very small but they are visible.

Head lice are treated with a combination of over-the-counter medicated shampoo and lotions and by physically removing all lice from the head with a special comb. Lice may be found throughout the scalp, but favorite spots may be the hair behind the ears and around the nape of the neck. Clothing, bedding, and stuffed toys should be washed in very hot water and dried on the hottest dryer setting to kill lice and their eggs.

Body Lice Picture

Body lice eggs are shown on the seams of clothes, one of their favorite environments.

Nits are the eggs of body lice. They may reside on clothing of someone who is infested with these parasites. They favor seams of clothing and areas including under the armpits and around the waistline. Nits hatch within 1 to 2 weeks.

Jellyfish Sting Picture

Jellfish leave painful papules on their victims.

The picture depicts itchy, painful papules on the leg of a victim who has suffered a jellyfish sting. The papules follow a linear arrangement due to the long stingers of the jellyfish.

Sea Urchin Sting

Stepping or falling on a sea urchin is painful, causing its tiny, thin spines to dislodge and potentially embed into your skin.

Sea urchins are echinoids that have spines that can be up to several inches long. Stepping on, falling on, or brushing against sea urchins can cause spines to fall off and embed into the skin. The sting is painful and unless the spines are removed, an infection will result. The process is tedious, but every spine out of the dozens that may be embedded must be removed in order to relieve the symptoms and prevent infection.

Sea Urchin Dermatitis

Having a sea urchin spine break off and into your skin can be quite painful.

Sea urchin dermatitis results when sea urchin spines pierce the skin. The condition is pictured here on the bottom of the foot of someone who stepped on a sea urchin.

Swimmers Itch Picture

Swimmers itch may be acquired in fresh water or salt water.

Swimmer's itch, or cercarial dermatitis, is a type of acute dermatitis that occurs as the result of skin infestation by parasitic larvae acquired from swimming in fresh or salt water. The parasites are harbored by certain birds, mammals, and snails. While the larvae can infect humans, leading to skin irritation, humans are not suitable hosts for the adult parasites. The rash resulting from swimmer's itch can be extremely itchy. Treatment may consist of topical agents to decrease itching and antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection occurs due to skin breakage from scratching.

Seabather's Itch Photo

Seabather's itch follows a contact with coral, jellyfish and sea anemones.

Seabather's itch, or seabather's eruption, is a very itchy rash that develops after contact with Cnidaria. These organisms include coral, jellyfish, and sea anemones. The jellyfish are found off the Florida coast and in the Caribbean, whereas the sea anemone are found off the northeastern coast of the United States.

Seabather's itch causes raised bumps or blisters to appear. Other symptoms of seabather's itch may include nausea, vomiting, headache, and fatigue.

Portuguese Man of War Sting

The stings of the Portuguese man of war typically cause wheals in stripes.

The Portuguese man-of-war is a brilliant blue-purple hydrozoan that has long tentacles capable of stinging victims with a whiplash-like pattern. The stings typically cause wheals that occur in stripes. The characteristic sting is not caused by whips from the tentacles but from irritants that the tentacles deposit on the skin of the victims.

West Nile Virus

Transmitted by mosquitoes, West Nile virus can cause encephalitis.

West Nile virus (WNV) is a flavivirus that can cause encephalitis. It is transmitted by mosquitoes. West Nile virus is similar to other viruses in the family, including yellow fever, dengue fever, and Japanese encephalitis viruses. WNV is a positive-strand RNA virus, and the genome encodes for three structural proteins and seven nonstructural proteins. The functions of the nonstructural proteins include weakening the host response and regulating viral transcription and replication.

Sources:

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

  1. Dr. P. Marazzi / Photo Researchers, Inc.
  2. Color Atlas & Synopsis of Pediatric Dermatology Kay Shou-Mei Kane, Jen Bissonette Ryder, Richard Allen Johnson, Howard P. Baden, Alexander Stratigos Copyright 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
  3. Color Atlas of Pediatric DermatologySamuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard KristalCopyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  4. Color Atlas of Pediatric Dermatology Samuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard Kristal Copyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  5. Photo courtesy of CDC
  6. Photo courtesy of Phil Pellitteri, University of Wisconsin
  7. Image reprinted with permission from eMedicine.com, 2008.
    CDC / James Gathany
  8. Color Atlas of Pediatric DermatologySamuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard KristalCopyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  9. Color Atlas of Pediatric DermatologySamuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard KristalCopyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  10. Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas & Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology Klaus Wolff, Richard Allen Johnson, Dick Suurmond Copyright 2005, 2001, 1997, 1993 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights reserved.
  11. Courtesy of JK Keller
    Courtesy of Peter Stott
  12. Photo courtesy of David O'Connor
  13. Medscape - Photo by Thomas Arnold, MD
  14. Color Atlas of Pediatric DermatologySamuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard KristalCopyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  15. Color Atlas of Pediatric DermatologySamuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard KristalCopyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  16. © 2007 Matt Odom
  17. Color Atlas & Synopsis of Pediatric DermatologyKay Shou-Mei Kane, Jen Bissonette Ryder, Richard Allen Johnson, Howard P. Baden, Alexander Stratigos Copyright 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
  18. © 2007 Interactive Medical Media LLC. All rights reserved.
  19. Color Atlas & Synopsis of Pediatric Dermatology Kay Shou-Mei Kane, Jen Bissonette Ryder, Richard Allen Johnson, Howard P. Baden, Alexander Stratigos Copyright 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
  20. Color Atlas & Synopsis of Pediatric Dermatology Kay Shou-Mei Kane, Jen Bissonette Ryder, Richard Allen Johnson, Howard P. Baden, Alexander Stratigos Copyright 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
  21. Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas & Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology Klaus Wolff, Richard Allen Johnson, Dick Suurmond Copyright 2005, 2001, 1997, 1993 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights reserved.
  22. Color Atlas of Pediatric Dermatology Samuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard Kristal Copyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  23. Color Atlas & Synopsis of Pediatric Dermatology Kay Shou-Mei Kane, Jen Bissonette Ryder, Richard Allen Johnson, Howard P. Baden, Alexander Stratigos Copyright 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.
  24. Color Atlas of Pediatric Dermatology Samuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard Kristal Copyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  25. Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas & Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology Klaus Wolff, Richard Allen Johnson, Dick Suurmond Copyright 2005, 2001, 1997, 1993 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights reserved.
  26. Color Atlas of Pediatric Dermatology Samuel Weinberg, Neil S. Prose, Leonard Kristal Copyright 2008, 1998, 1990, 1975, by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  27. Image Source: CDC - P.E. Rollin / Cynthia Goldsmith

REFERENCES:

  • American Academy of Dermatology: "Scabies: Signs and Symptoms."
  • American Academy of Dermatology: "Scabies."
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency: "Bed Bugs: Get Them Out and Keep Them Out."
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "Lyme Disease."
  • European Handbook of Dermatological Treatments: "Tick Dematoses."
  • Boston Public Health Commission: "Rickettsialpox."
  • UpToDate: "Bee and Insect Stings (Beyond the Basics)."
  • OSHA Fact Sheet: "Black Widow Spider."
  • OSHA Fact Sheet: "Brown Recluse Spider."
  • University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: "Brown Recluse and Other Recluse Spiders."
  • Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences: "Carpet Beetle Dermatitis."
  • American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: "Insect Sting Allergy."
  • American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: "Flea Bites."
  • American Academy of Dermatology: "Head Lice."
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "Parasites – Lice – Body Lice."
  • Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies, 4th edition: "Cutaneous Manifestations of Jellyfish Stings."
  • Merck Manual: "Sea Urchin Stings."
  • DiversAlertNetwork.org: "Marine Life Trauma."
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Cercarial Dermatitis."
  • American Family Physician: "Pruritic Rash After an Ocean Swim."
  • Inflammation & Allergy Drug Targets, vol. 10, 2011: "Immunological and toxinological responses to jellyfish stings."
  • Journal of Virology: "A Balance Between Virulence, Innate and Adaptive Immunity, and Viral Evasion."
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