welt meltdown
September 21, 2007 5:09 PM   Subscribe

My insect bites are producing progressively larger welts. Should I be worried?

I was bitten about two weeks ago by an unknown entity, presumably insect. I got a raisin-sized welt. I'm 48 and hadn't had that happen before. Tonight I saw what bit me. An ant. The welt is about the size of two large grapes (on my face).

So is the most likely explanation that I am becoming sensitized to an allergy to ant bites? Should I worry whether the next one will send me into anaphylaxis or make me spend a week looking like the Elephant Man?

I've never been allergic to anything so this is a bit disconcerting.
posted by dances_with_sneetches to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
Stop touching them.
posted by caddis at 5:11 PM on September 21, 2007

Maybe see if taking Benadryl helps.
posted by yodelingisfun at 5:18 PM on September 21, 2007

See a doctor. There are nasty things that can happen with insect bites & spider bites. The size of the welts you describe don't sound normal. While there may not be much to be done for mild allergy, it is also possible that the bite is infected with something horrifying.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 5:33 PM on September 21, 2007

Response by poster: The time course was single digit minutes - not time for a growing infection. There are bad things out there that bite, but this time I caught the culprit - a common local ant - so I don't think it is something evil.
A histaminergic reaction is the only thing that makes sense to me. I understand the nature of anaphylaxis, but what I don't know is - is it proceeded by progressively larger non-anaphylactic reactions?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:46 PM on September 21, 2007

Was this the second attack? Am I right in understanding that you watched the ant crawl onto your face and bite you this time? I've never heard of common black ants biting like that. Was it a fire ant or other larger red ant?
posted by Jeff Howard at 6:06 PM on September 21, 2007

Allergies are weird. Wouldn't hurt to get an epipen (from a doctor) just in case. Especially if you carry a purse anyway. I find that rubbing the powder from a broken-up benadryl capsule directly on allergic-skin-stuff helps a lot, but I have no idea if this is really bad for me (sometimes-its-just-so-ITCHY).
posted by Eringatang at 6:06 PM on September 21, 2007

are you sure it was an ant?

seconding the bendadryl (obvs, don't take it first thing in the morning, because it will knock you out). also, a trip to a doctor wouldn't be a bad idea. if they're getting worse, you probably want to address it before it goes to much further. might be an infection, an allergy, or you have some poisonous ants in your house. a diagnosis will help you figure out how to proceed. if you can catch the ant in a shot glass, cover it with plastic wrap, and pop it in the freezer. once it's dead and frozen, put it into a baggie to take to the doctor.

finally, an exterminator wouldn't be a bad idea.
posted by thinkingwoman at 8:19 PM on September 21, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks. I felt the bite and pulled an ant off of me. Benadryl would make sense. Seeing a doctor - well here in Puerto Rico, going to a doctor for something at an emergency room is useless - I will know more than the doctor. And getting an appointment to see one, it will almost certainly be gone before then.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:43 PM on September 21, 2007

There's also topical Benadryl (in gel and cream form), to put directly on the bite. It's a lifesaver for me. Or, if it's painful, dissolve an aspirin tablet in water and put a little on the bite - it will help immensely.
posted by bassjump at 6:01 AM on September 22, 2007

Just be sure you aren't getting three similar bites in the same area -- those would be the infamous "breakfast, lunch and dinner" bites of the bedbug.

Some people have no reaction, others have itchy welts that last for weeks. Others have no reaction at first but then have one after they take a hot shower or otherwise "activate" an allergic reaction.
posted by dhartung at 2:30 PM on September 22, 2007

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