How to Treat an Infected Bug Bite

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Bug bites are fairly common and generally require only minimal first aid. However, as with any wound or injury, it's possible for bacteria to enter the broken skin and cause an infection. Minor skin infections may be treated with home care, but a serious infection must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.

  • Prevent infection. Immediately wash the bug bite with warm water. Use an antiseptic or antibacterial soap. Do this several times a day for 2 days.

  • Apply a hot compress to the area of the bug bite after you have cleaned the bite with soap and water if you suspect the scab of the bite is becoming infected. Leave the compress on for 10 minutes.

  • Mix a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 3 parts water. Apply this solution to the scab and affected area.

  • Combine 1 part Betadine to 3 parts water and apply to the bug bite and let it dry on the skin for 2 minutes. Wash the solution off completely.

  • Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment up to four times a day.

  • Cover the bug bite with a bandage to keep from scratching, which will make you more susceptible to infection.

  • Know how to recognize a serious skin infection. Look for redness and swelling that has enlarged beyond the area of the bite. Check to see if the area is warm and tender to the touch. Watch for pus or drainage in the area of the bite.

Tips & Warnings

  • Betadine is a topical over-the-counter antiseptic used to treat infection.
  • Call your physician if the infected scab area does not improve within 48 hours of home treatment.
  • Contact your doctor immediately if you have symptoms of a skin infection or you have a fever, body aches or chills. You may have a serious bacterial infection that requires a specific diagnosis and prescription strength antibiotics.
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