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How Do I Treat an Insect Bite with Pus?

By C.B. Fox
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Treating an insect bite with pus is a bit more involved than treating an insect bite that has not developed an infection, though it can often be done at home. The pus should be cleaned from the bite as thoroughly as possible, and an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment should be applied to the wound. The bite should then be covered with a bandage in order to keep it clean. Patients can take pain medication when treating an infected bite, though a healthcare professional should be seen if the infection does not improve within a couple of days.

The presence of pus in an insect bite is a sign that the bite has developed an infection. Some insects carry bacteria in their saliva, which can cause a bacterial infection to form in a bite, though it is also possible for bacteria to enter the bite wound through the broken skin. Either way, treatment generally involves both treating the bite symptoms and the infection.

In order to clear up a minor infection in an insect bite, the wound should first be thoroughly cleaned. A sterile cotton ball or pad can be used to wipe away any pus and blood. A cleanser, such as soap and water, iodine, or rubbing alcohol can then be rubbed gently onto the wound. Once the bite has been cleaned, an antibiotic ointment can be applied to the area, followed by a bandage placed so that additional contaminants cannot enter the wound. Antibiotic ointment should be reapplied as prescribed and the bandage changed frequently in order to keep pus from accumulating around the injury.

If an insect bite is painful or itchy, over-the-counter medications can be used to treat these conditions as well. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are commonly used to treat the pain of a bite, while an antihistamine may be taken to stop it from itching. Topical antihistamines should not be used on an insect bite with pus.

A patient may need to see a healthcare professional to properly treat an infected insect bite. An infection that spreads or that does not begin to improve within 48 hours of treatment needs to be evaluated because the patient may require oral antibiotics. Furthermore, a patient should consult with a medical professional for any bug bite that seems abnormal as there are many poisonous insects that can cause serious injury or illness.

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Discussion Comments

By penny1969 — On Aug 06, 2014

I've been getting more infected pus-filled bug bites this past summer and in several different states, than ever before in my life. I can safely say that nothing that color has ever come out of me before (and if something this color were coming out of my lungs it would be pneumonia and that's fatal!) Each time I've been in a place where there were dodgy mattresses and dodgy furniture and it's summer or summer-like weather. I'm wondering if this past year has seen some kind of new breed of bug in the places I've been or what? If I have to sleep covered in at least 40 percent DEET solution for the rest of summer-bug-season I will!

By anon332221 — On Apr 27, 2013

Also, in cases of young people, do not wait. You never know if they are allergic, and don't need to wait and find out. An allergic reaction will occur within one hour of being bitten.

By anon332220 — On Apr 27, 2013

Fire ant bites are different, so do not follow these directions. Consult a doctor, but the pus is natural in a fire ant bite.

By Monika — On Jul 17, 2012

I had no idea that bug bites could get infected like that! I've had plenty of bug bites in the past, but I've never had one that had pus coming out of it. I guess I've been lucky! I'll definitely keep an eye out for this in the future though, especially during the summer time.

I usually keep all the stuff needed to treat these kinds of bug bites in my first aid kit though: bandages, rubbing alcohol, and antibiotic ointment.

By strawCake — On Jul 16, 2012

@sunnySkys - That sounds scary! That being said, I don't think there's anything wrong with treating a bug bite at home and waiting 24 hours to see if it gets better. Obviously if it looks really severe, go to the doctor. But I think most people will be OK if they just use their judgment.

I actually had an insect bite with pus earlier this year, and I was able to treat it home. I just cleaned it up really good, put antibiotic ointment on it, and kept it covered. It got better within about a week, and I'm glad I didn't have to pay for a doctors visit to get it taken care of.

By sunnySkys — On Jul 15, 2012
If you have an insect bite that is oozing pus and looks abnormal, I would head to the doctor right away. I know that some insect bites with pus can be treated at home, but I think it's better to be safe than sorry.

The reason I say this is that I have a friend (actually, come to think of it I know two different people that this happened to) that had to have surgery because of an infected spider bite.

She knew there was something wrong with the bite, but she waited a while before going to the doctor, hoping it would go away. By the time she went, it was so infected she had to have surgery to remove the infected tissue.

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