Pest Guides

Preventing and Treating Insect Bites

Protecting you and your family from Insect Bites

Insects bite to feed on blood. The bites themselves are not usually painful, but it is the itchiness that results from the bite that causes discomfort. It is especially distressing when suffering from multiple or repeat insect bites. This is often the case with biting insects in the home, particularly fleas or bed bugs.

However, your home can be treated to get rid of any biting insect and there are basic precautions that can be taken to significantly reduce the risks when outdoors.

If you have a problem with biting insects, please contact the Pest Control experts to put in place a pest management programme that suits your needs.

Biting Insects and Your Health

The main risk from biting insects is the skin irritation caused by the bites. When insects bite, they inject saliva to ensure the blood flows without clotting. It is the immune response to this saliva that causes the irritation.

Sensitivity to Insect Bites

Insects seem to prefer biting some individuals more than others and people show different levels of sensitivity to bites. Insect bites rarely require medical treatment. However, call an ambulance immediately if a bite causes swelling to the throat, mouth or tongue that restricts breathing or if a sting is suspected and there are symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.

Treating Insect Bites

The most important treatment for an insect bite is to clean the wound. If any insect debris has been left in the wound, remove it carefully with fingernails or tweezers. Then clean the insect bite using soap and water or alcohol wipes. Try not to scratch insect bites, as this will increase the itch and could lead to the bite becoming infected by bacteria.

Swelling due to the insect bite can be reduced immediately after a bite by covering it with a cold compress such as ice in a cloth (but never hold ice directly on the skin). It may take more than a week for the swelling to go down and may remain itchy for several days. The itchiness and swelling can be relieved with anti-histamine creams for bites and stings. Oral anti-histamine (“hayfever tablets”) can also help especially where there are multiple insect bites.

Consult a doctor if:

  • The swelling or pain is so severe that it prevents moving around or sleeping
  • The swelling continues to worsen more than a day after the insect bite
  • The bite appears to be infected

Repeat insect bites such as those caused by a flea infestation, can lead to sensitised skin and dermatitis. Consult a pharmacist or doctor for treatment.

Identifying Insect Bites

In most cases, it is difficult to identify the insect from its bite. Reactions to bites vary so much that it often leads to a misdiagnosis. Generally it is more important to identify where the bite occurred and look for other indicators to identify the insect and ensure that the area can be treated or avoided to avoid future insect bites.

Biting Insects in the home

It can be distressing to have a pest infestation of biting insects in the home, but there is no need to tolerate them, as there are treatments and insecticides to deal with them.

In this country, the three most common sources of insect bites in the home are:

Mosquito Bites and other Biting flying insects
Mosquitoes - click for further info on treatment
  • Mosquitoes usually bite after dusk or at night
  • Tend to be found near slow-moving water
  • Often seen resting on ceilings and upper walls

Make sure to keep windows closed at night or use fly screens to prevent mosquitoes entering the home. Once inside the home, mosquitoes can be treated like other flying insects. Read more about Mosquito control.

The cat flea - click for further info on treatment
  • Fleas are associated with cats and dogs as pets
  • Fleas are often found when moving into a home that used to have pets
  • Will switch to biting humans when no pets are present
  • Flea bites often clustered around ankles and lower legs

Please refer to our flea section if you suspect you have an infestation in your home.

Bed Bugs
Bedbug - click for further info on treatment
  • Bed bugs are nocturnal and only bite at night
  • Bed bug bites can be anywhere on the body
  • Small spots of blood left on bed linen
  • Staining of mattresses and surrounding areas

Please refer to our bed bug section if you suspect you have an infestation in your home.

While these are the most common causes of insect bites in the home, there are many others - however they can all be treated.

Outdoor Biting Insects

It is often difficult to identify when and where you were bitten, never mind the insect that bit you. If bitten, the best advice is to take steps not to let it happen again:

  • Avoid wearing bright colours and strong scents such as perfumes and deodorants as these attract insects
  • Wear long sleeves, trousers, footwear and hats to reduce exposed ski
  • Use insect repellent sprays on exposed skin
  • Use insect repelling products or candles when sitting outdoors
  • Avoid leaving sweet drinks and foods exposed
  • Avoid areas of still or stagnant water
  • Avoid brushing through long grass or bushes
  • Tuck trousers into socks when hiking through brush or rough grass

These precautions are especially important from dusk into the night when many biting insects are most active.

Rentokil offers a call-out service to deal with all types of biting insects and other pest problems in the home. Our pest control service is fast, effective and offers the highest level of safety for your family and pets.

If you would like further advice or to arrange a visit from one of our pest control specialists, call us free on +256 414 287 160 / +256 414 694 494 or email us.