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Diagnosing insect bites

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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An insect bite is usually obvious from the symptoms. Tell your GP if you know that you were exposed to a particular type of insect.

Your GP may look for the following symptoms in order to confirm your diagnosis.


Irritation is usually a constant symptom. Avoid rubbing or scratching the affected area because it can make the irritation worse and may lead to infection.

Papular urticaria

Papular urticaria is a number of very itchy red lumps (papules) that develop on or near the area of the bite. They can also develop fluid-filled blisters that may crust over if scratched. Papules can persist for up to two weeks.

Papular urticaria is particularly common in children. It usually affects children who:

  • are two to seven years of age
  • have a history of atopic dermatitis, a condition that causes inflammation of the skin and often runs in families

Papular urticaria is caused by being very sensitive to insect bites.

Bullous reaction

Bullous reactions are where fluid-filled blisters develop on your skin. They are particularly common in children and often occur on the lower legs.


A fever (high temperature) may occur if there are numerous bites, or if there is a severe local reaction. A fever is usually 38C (100.4F) or over.

Medical Review: June 20, 2010

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