Gnat bites: what do they look like and how to treat them | The Sun

Gnat bites: what do they look like and how to treat them | The Sun

THE warmer months bring with them a whole host of insects and creepy crawlies.

You might think any black, flying creature is just a mosquito – but if they're especially tiny, it's quite likely a gnat.

There are many varieties of these winged critters.

Here's what you need to know about their biting habits and how to deal with the itchy results.

What is a gnat and does it bite?

Gnats are tiny, winged creatures that are either grey or black in colour.

There are several species, not all of which bite.

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Those that do have have a scissor-like mouth structure that allow them to make microscopic cuts into the skin.

They can’t bite through fabric, so they'll only go for exposed skin.

What do gnat bites look like?

Bites from the tiny critters are easily confused with mosquito bites, as they cause small, red and itchy bumps.

The symptoms you get after a gnat has had a nibble of you are from your body's minor allergic reaction to its saliva.

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Typically, you'll get bumps that are:

  • small
  • red
  • painful
  • very itchy
  • swollen

Sometimes you might notice some bleeding in the area where a gnat has bitten into your skin.

And – according to Healthline – the bumps can form into small, fluid-filled blisters for some people.

Are gnat bites dangerous?

Gnat bites don't tend to be dangerous; they can easily be treated at home and should go away on their own.

However, some people might experience a severe allergic reaction or their bites might get infected.

In rare cases, biting gnats may carry pathogens or parasites, according to WebMD, which can cause illness or infection.

You might want to see a doctor if:

  • you were bitten around the mouth or eyes
  • your symptoms get worse or don’t go away within two weeks
  • you have symptoms of a skin infection, such as pus

Another rare reaction to gnat bites is anaphylaxis – a life threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention as it happens very quickly.

Symptoms usually start within minutes of coming into contact with something you're allergic to, such as an insect sting, NHS guidance states.

They include:

  • swelling of your throat and tongue
  • difficulty breathing or breathing very fast
  • difficulty swallowing, tightness in your throat or a hoarse voice
  • wheezing, coughing or noisy breathing
  • feeling tired or confused
  • feeling faint, dizzy or fainting
  • skin that feels cold to the touch
  • blue, grey or pale skin, lips or tongue – if you have brown or black skin, this may be easier to see on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet

You may also have a rash that's swollen, raised or itchy.

What to do if you have anaphylaxis

If you think you or someone you’re with is having an anaphylactic reaction, you should:

  1. Use an adrenaline auto-injector (such as an EpiPen) if you have one  instructions are included on the side of the injector.
  2. Call 999 for an ambulance and say that you think you're having an anaphylactic reaction.
  3. Lie down – you can raise your legs, and if you're struggling to breathe, raise your shoulders or sit up slowly (if you're pregnant, lie on your left side).
  4. If you have been stung by an insect, try to remove the sting if it's still in the skin.
  5. If your symptoms have not improved after 5 minutes, use a 2nd adrenaline auto-injector.

Do not stand or walk at any time, even if you feel better.

Source: NHS

How long do gnat bites last?

Gnats bites usually only last a few days.

Seek medical help if your symptoms are lingering after two weeks.

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How do you treat gnat bites?

If you notice you've been bitten by gnats, you should:

  1. Wash the bites with soap and cool water to clean the area and then carefully pat dry
  2. Apply a cold compress for at least 10 minutes at a time – this can be a cloth soaked in cold water, an ice pack wrapped in a towel or a frozen bag of veggies
  3. Apply anti-itch creams to the affected area
  4. Take antihistamines to treat allergic reactions
  5. Elevate you arms and legs if you were bitten in these areas – this may help move blood away from the bites and decrease swelling

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