Bug bites can be an itchy nuisance, especially when you’re bitten multiple times in a row by the same type of bug.
Some insects, like flying insects, might bite one time and then move to their next victim.
Other insects, though, may unleash several bites at once. And if you’re on the other end of this attack, you might have a cluster of bites appearing in a line.
What types of bugs cause these types of bites, though?
Here’s a look at different bugs that leave multiple bites in a row, as well as how you can treat these bites.
Different insects can leave different types of bite marks, including those appearing in a line.
If you notice multiple bites in a row, there are a few possible culprits:
|Fleas||Fleas can bite multiple times, leaving clusters of tiny red bumps in a row. Flea bites are often on the lower part of the body, such as on the legs, ankles, and feet.||Symptoms include tiny red bumps or welts and extreme itching.|
|Bedbugs||Bedbug bites are red, appearing as a line of flat or raised bumps.||Symptoms include itching, redness, and swelling.|
|Lice||Head lice can cause a row of tiny red bumps around the head or neck. Lice can also leave a line of bumps near pubic hair, the hair around the armpits, or the eyebrows.||Symptoms include intense itching that worsens at night and the appearance of tiny white eggs in the hair. Symptoms can appear up to 2 to 4 weeks after contact.|
|Fire ants||A single fire ant can bite multiple times, causing red bumps or lumps that appear in a line or in clusters.||Symptoms include a burning, stinging sensation, itchiness, and swelling.|
|Mites (scabies, chiggers, bird mites)||Mites are insect-like organisms that can bite and cause skin irritation in humans. The bites are pimple-like rashes appearing in clusters or as raised lines on the skin.||Symptoms include intense itching that worsens at night, redness, and tingling and swelling around the bite site.|
Bug bites can cause pain, redness, and intense itching, so you’ll want to take immediate action to relieve discomfort and prevent future bites.
Identify and remove the culprit
The first step in treating a bug bite is to identify the culprit.
If you suspect a bedbug or flea infestation in your home, call a pest control company to find and remove the bugs. You can also prevent an infestation by treating fleas on your pets.
Although irritating, most bug bites are minor and treatable with home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
Prevent swelling and infection
For mild bites, wash the area with soap and water to prevent an infection.
Apply a cool compress over the bite to reduce pain and swelling.
If you have bites on your arms or legs, keeping this part of your body elevated can also reduce swelling.
Soothe pain and itching
Next, apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion over the bite to calm itching, or take an OTC oral antihistamine.
If you have pain, take an OTC pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Continue this treatment until symptoms go away.
Treat lice and scabies with prescription topicals
If you have lice, you’ll need an OTC medicated shampoo to kill the lice and their eggs. If these treatments don’t work, ask your doctor for a prescription lice treatment.
It’s important to note that itching from lice doesn’t go away immediately after treatment. Also, the initial treatment may not kill lice eggs. You may need to re-treat the area in a week, when the eggs have hatched.
Treatment for scabies is a prescription antiparasitic topical cream. It will kill the mites and their eggs. Even after medication kills the mites, itching may last for a couple of weeks.
To prevent reinfection, wash all your clothes, towels, and linen in hot water to kill the mites.
About scabies bites
The bite from a scabies mite isn’t what itches. These pests burrow beneath the skin and leave their poop behind. The poop then triggers an allergic reaction, which is what causes the itching and irritation.
A severe allergic reaction to a bug bite is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical treatment if you develop any of the following symptoms:
Also, see a doctor if you’re unable to identify a bug bite or if a bug bite doesn’t heal or worsens in appearance.
If your bite itches, keep in mind that scratching can break your skin and cause bacteria to penetrate the deeper level of your skin. This can lead to a bacterial skin infection called cellulitis.
Signs of infection include:
- increased redness or pain
Don’t wait for a fever!
If you suspect you may have a bacterial skin infection, see a doctor right away.
They can make an early diagnosis of cellulitis by looking for red streaking away from the irritated area toward the heart. A thickening of skin around the bite or wound is another indication of infection.
Bug bites are no fun, but they don’t typically cause problems or complications. Still, it’s important to identify any bug bite that appears in a line to prevent further bites.
Home treatment can quickly relieve symptoms, but don’t hesitate to see a doctor if your symptoms worsen or if you’re unable to identify the cause of a bump a rash.