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How to Treat a Horse Fly Bite

Horse fly bites can be quite painful and itchy. These creatures attack both animals and humans. In some cases, their bites can lead to an infection.

Therefore, you should keep the bite clean. Below, we’ll talk about how to treat horse fly bites, as well as how to prevent them.

General Information About Horse Flies

horse fly biteThe average horse fly is about ¾-inches long. They are gray or black in color, and have large green eyes. It’s females who are hungry for blood.

They use their blade-like mouths to rip into tissue and suck up blood. Males, on the other hand, feed on pollen and nectar.

Their mouths are much weaker and are not suited for biting into flesh. So, if you’ve experienced a horse fly bite, chances are that it was a female that bit you.

A bite from a female can be quite painful, and will typically lead to itching and minor swelling.

Bottom Line: It’s the female horse flies that bite people (not the males). Bites lead to itching and minor swelling.

Symptoms of a Horse Fly Bite

person scratching bug biteHere are the main symptoms to look for:

  • Pain: Obviously, when the skin is torn there’s going to be some pain. The affected area may become red and will swell. This is your body’s inflammation response in-action. The bite may even become itchy.
  • Allergic Reaction: An allergic reaction may occur, resulting in hives. In more serious cases, it can result in wheezing as the body reacts to the bite. If you become weak or dizzy after a bite, or if your lips or eyes swell, get to a hospital.
  • Infection: If bacteria breach the skin where the bite occurred, it can lead to an infection. This will manifest as puss oozing from the site of the infection. Antibiotics may be required to make the infection subside.

Don’t worry- rarely will a horse fly bite lead to a serious infection or allergic reaction. Still, it’s important that you understand the potential side effects.

Bottom Line: Pain is the most common symptom. Less common symptoms include allergic reactions and/or infections.

How to Treat a Horse Fly Bite

benadryl pictureIf you don’t do anything at all, the bite should heal within 2-3 days. To speed up recovery, and lessen the pain, here are some things to try:

  • Don’t Scratch: This is by far the most important tip to remember. If you scratch, there’s a higher possibility of infection. It will also prolong healing.
  • Take Benadryl: If you feel that you’re starting to develop an allergic reaction to the bite, then take some Benadryl. This should help alleviate the symptoms.
  • Clean the Bite: Another way to reduce the chances of getting an infection is to keep the area around the bite clean. Use anti-bacterial soap if possible.
  • Hot Compress: Compressing the bite with a hot towel can alleviate the pain and provide some relief. Just make sure that the water isn’t too hot to the touch.

A final “trick” that you can try is to apply saliva to the horse fly bite. Human saliva contains naturally-occurring molecules that kill/inhibit foreign microbes from replicating.

Various other remedies that you can try include mud, honey, Epsom salt, and vinegar. You can even experiment with vinegar or baking soda until you find relief.

Remember that everyone’s body is different. A remedy that works for you might not work for someone else (and vice versa).

Bottom Line: Some treatment options that you can try include a host compress, Benadryl, cleaning the bite, and not scratching.

How to Prevent Horse Fly Bites

insect repellentThe best thing you can do to prevent horse fly bites is to wear long sleeves and pants. By exposing less skin, you’ll take away a lot of the horse fly’s target.

This won’t eliminate the chances of getting bit, but it will decrease your risk. Also, if the horse fly manages to bite through the clothes, it won’t be as bad as it biting the skin directly.

Another thing that you can try is wearing insect repellent. Specifically, go with diethyltoluamide. This usually does a good job at keeping bugs away (including horse flies).

Bottom Line: The molecule diethyltoluamide is an effective repellent of horse flies and other insects.

When Should You See a Doctor?

For the most part, a horse fly bite isn’t anything to worry about. While the initial bite might be a little painful, it’s likely not going to kill you.

At most, you’ll probably be itchy for a few days. Only in rare cases will it progress to an infection or allergic reaction. Some people may develop a mild allergic reaction to the bite, but nothing life-threatening.

It depends entirely on the individual. If the itching, redness, or swelling isn’t gone after a few days, or if it’s getting progressively worse, go see a doctor.

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