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Earwig Bite: Treat It Right

Possible Symptoms And the Right Treatment for an Earwig Bite

An earwig bite can be very painful and may lead to a number of symptoms that range from the considerably mild to the severe. Let us get to know more about them and the treatment and control methods for the same.
Rujuta Borkar
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
You Should Know This
Earwigs are not venomous and they do not cause injuries by biting. If irritated, they use their forceps/pincers to grip a person's skin, causing him discomfort. So, earwigs don't exactly bite or sting; they pinch. If pinched by an earwig, wash and disinfect the affected area. In case of a pricking sensation or swelling, use an ice pack and apply an anti-itch or anti-inflammatory cream on patting the area dry. If discomfort persists for long, call a doctor.

Earwigs are considered as pests because they attack domestic plants. Add to that the fact that when disturbed, an earwig will respond by releasing a foul-smelling liquid (yellowish-brown) and will not stop at biting (pinching) its 'predator' either (the pinch is often compared to a mild electric shock). Earwigs (both, male and female) have forceps (also known as prongs) at the end of their bodies which they use for a number of reasons like capturing their prey, procreation and, most importantly, to sting a person or animal that they consider a threat. One has to understand that the earwig has only its prongs for defense, so if it infers something as a threat, it will sting, rather pinch.

An earwig bite, though potentially harmless, will cause a lot of pain and may also induce bleeding. What is one to do when bitten by an earwig? Before we get into the details about the care that one needs to administer for an earwig bite, let us understand what some of the symptoms of this bite are.

Symptoms

Are earwig bites dangerous? Not really. Since earwigs do not contain any poison, a bite is not potentially or fatally dangerous like other insect and reptile bites (snakebite, spider bite). While the symptoms may vary from person to person, depending on the size of the bug or an individual's reaction to a sting or the healing process of the body, there are certain symptoms that manifest themselves. These may be some of the symptoms that you will notice once you've been bitten by the bug.
  • There will be two red marks from where the forceps have stung into your body.
  • If you've been stung/pinched/bitten really hard then you might even bleed.
  • The area around the bite will be red and swollen.
  • The area of the bite will begin to itch.
  • In some cases (especially if the forceps of the earwig have broken and remained embedded in your skin) the area around the bite will swell and become hard.
  • If not treated, over time, it will turn into a blister and there are chances of it getting septic.
  • One could also develop a condition called cellulitis (which is an infection in the tissue).
Treatment

While most of those who are bitten by an earwig do not suffer very serious consequences, some might develop an infection (as mentioned above). So in order to prevent the earwig bite from getting septic and infected, one needs to administer immediate and proper care. Take the following steps.
  1. Wash the area with a mild soap and water. Preferably use an antibacterial soap so that the chances of developing an infection are eliminated.
  2. If the area is stinging or it has swollen, put an ice pack on it. This will numb the area and help deal with the pain.
  3. Pat the area dry and depending on the severity of the bite, apply an anti-itch or anti-inflammatory ointment.
  4. For more severe symptoms like swelling, use hydrogen peroxide and neosporin to prevent the onset of blisters.
  5. This should help, but if the symptoms do not subside then contact a doctor immediately.
  6. In fact, it is better to contact a doctor at the onset because the forceps of the bug might be stuck inside the skin, which will be impossible to get out on your own (and you shouldn't try either).
Earwig Control

The best way in which one can prevent an earwig's bite is by controlling the growth of the bugs. Here are some ways in which you can prevent the earwigs from entering your house:
  • Earwigs infest moist areas. So make sure that you keep these areas dry as far as possible. These places include foundations and walls as well. Have these properly cemented.
  • Earwigs feast on garden plants. If you have any decaying houseplants in the house then there is a chance that they might be making their way indoors to eat them. Make sure that you dispose off any decaying plants to avoid an infestation in the first place.
  • Make sure you close the doors and windows at night because earwigs can crawl through the tiniest of places; and even though they are outdoor creatures, they can come indoors (usually at night when it is too cold)
  • Using boric acid in door slits and other entrances can prevent them from crawling in.
  • If there is already an infestation in the house, use a vacuum to dispose them off.
  • Other than that, several chemical sprays are available in the market for getting rid of them.
An earwig bite is not potentially dangerous, but it can lead to infections and unwanted complications. Therefore, make sure that you control the growth of these insects in the first place. In case you're bitten, and in spite of administering the treatment mentioned above, the pain or symptoms don't subside, then contact a doctor immediately.

On a Different Note
The earwig bug is an insect that gets its name from a legend. This legend states that the bug crawls up people's ears at night and eats their brain out. This seems quite plausible as well because of the sharp prongs that are visible. Rest assured this theory is not true, but the name has stuck.