Earwig bite: Symptoms, 5 Treatments & 20+ Prevention Tips

Earwig bite can be really painful and causes a red coloured rash on the skin. Let’s explore the symptoms, treatment and prevention of earwig bite.

What is an earwig‏?

Earwig gets its freaky name from a myth that it is an insect who enters a person’s ear and feeds on the brain which is an alarming incorrect idea. Earwigs are small insects.

Their colour may be either one of these colours (Black, orange, brown and black) and usually with markings. They have wings, and forceps-like pincers to defend themselves. Earwig Bugs are common worldwide in insects, with different species and huge diversity.

1,800 different species of earwig bug are present in the world. Earwig bug Females may “lick” eggs to keep them moist and free of mould and feed on regurgitated food‏.

Do earwigs bite‏?

earwig bite
Earwig bite
Image source: healthline.com

Earwigs live in dark and wet environments where bacteria can grow, and all kinds of plants are their food.  They have two pincers that play a role in mating, parental care, and as a self-defence mechanism.

They can bite causing what’s called earwig bite, but in most cases, they don’t do it. They actually pinch the skin and stick tightly on it, or maybe it can feed on your blood. Earwig bite leaves the skin red and swollen with a mark.

What are the symptoms caused by earwig bite‏?

Earwig bite makes two pinchers leaving two marks that are red and distant from each other with a small space, in some cases, it penetrates the skin to draw blood, causing blisters later‏.

When blisters are infected, there will be skin changes which are seen as:

  • ‏Inflamed and red skin
  • ‏Pain and tender pinches
  • ‏Tight skin
  • ‏Rapid rash develops
  • ‏Abscess in centre of earwig bite pinch
  • ‏Fever and warm skin especially around the earwig bite
  • ‏Chills, malaise, shaking, fatigue and sweating in severe cases‏.
  • ‏Blistering, drowsiness is signs of sepsis and needs medical emergency in hospital‏.
  • ‏Face cellulitis might be one of the severe complications from infection of the area around the earwig bite‏.
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Usually, Earwig bug bite doesn’t leave any complication, and the pain is mild and heals quickly.  Earwig bite doesn’t cause puncture wounds, and most cases do not show skin reactions unless infected.

Pincher bug bite, on the other hand, involves only one puncture area in the centre of swollen skin. If a spider bit you, you would see two punctures which are swollen, extremely painful and so red‏.

Why do earwigs bite‏?

Earwig bite is a mode of self-defence, they insert the pincers into the human skin which also occurs if you try to hold it, and get close to it. Take care as it might get into your furniture, bed sheets; they have to be effectively and exclusively gotten rid of‏.

Earwig bite does not leave any venom in the skin. But earwigs live in soil, leaving high chances of germ transfers causing infections‏.

How are earwig bites treated‏?

First, start by checking the area and getting to the right diagnosis, and compare your symptoms with those of the earwig bite, insect bite and once you are sure that it is an earwig bite, treat it as follows‏:

The earwig bite area should be washed thoroughly:

Wash the earwig bite quickly with water and soap, to try to disinfect the skin from any germs that will cause infections and sepsis

Apply ice over the earwig bite area:

After being bitten with an earwig bug, the skin becomes infected. This will in turn swell and turn to red tender and feel hot compared to other body skin areas.

So, the best solution is to put cold packs like ice which aids in soothing the tender red area and reduce the temperature and also decrease the itching sensation of the earwig bite‏.

Apply anti-histaminic cream after drying the skin well:

If still after applying the ice on your surface, there is still annoying itching sensation; then you should wipe the skin very well, followed by putting ointment for itching as any anti-histaminic cream will efficiently work‏.

Apply anti-infection agents like hydrogen peroxide:

Hydrogen peroxide is an anti-infective. You can apply it to avoid any infections. Take care, any open wound from earwig bite shouldn’t be exposed to hydrogen peroxide‏.

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If there is any sign of severe symptoms of cellulitis and sepsis, a doctor should be consulted quickly‏.

This is to avoid any severe infection that could reach your bloodstream, most probably he will describe topical antibiotics after washing and drying the pinched area very well.

If any of the pincers are locked inside your skin, only the doctor should remove it to avoid the risk of contamination and skin infection. Your doctor will also provide you with instructions regarding follow-up to care for the earwig bug bite infected area at home‏.

How to prevent earwig bites‏?

There is always a sentence that describes the problems of earwig bug, which is precaution is better than treatment. Preventing is by avoiding any form of contact with earwig bug‏.

  • ‏Install door sweeps
  • ‏No inside light should be visible underneath exterior doors when viewed from the floor level‏.
  • ‏The garage doors can be fitted with a rubber seal to prevent earwig bug from entering‏.
  • ‏All doors opening to the exterior of a building should be self-closing‏.
  • ‏Install mesh on doors or windows that can be opened, and on all ventilation openings. You have to keep them in good shape with regular maintenance. Mesh will not only prevent earwig bug from entering but also, birds, squirrels and Rats
  • ‏Repair plumbing and roof leaks‏.
  • Check ceiling tiles. Water damage can weaken walls and ceilings creating additional entryways and be a water source for mould to develop‏.
  • ‏The refrigerator should be used to store excess food. Place excess food in containers and store it in the fridge.
  • Maintain proper sanitation practices. Clean up all the spilt food. You can use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the food spills.
  • ‏Wear gloves while getting rid of earwig bugs‏.
  • ‏Moist areas are to be prevented and keep your home dry at all times‏.
  • ‏Close all house drains when not in use‏.
  • ‏All decaying plants should be removed outside the home‏.
  • Seal around pipes‏.
  • ‏Spray boric acid around any cracks, or entrances, as it is instrumental in getting rid of earwig bugs. Water and boric acid are to be mixed, then sprayed or used to fill any slits or openings in your house or around it.  You can buy Boric acid from supermarkets‏.
  • ‏Use insecticides regularly every daytime, will help in repelling the earwig bug, you must spray homes inside-outside meaning also gardens and garages and backyards and any area nearby home.  This will not only protect you from earwig bite but any other insect bite‏.
  • ‏At night, decrease the use of outside lights, and prevent any light from entering to avoid earwig bug attraction.
  • ‏Earwigs are more common in homes that are built newly, for the first year, or those who have been recently sunk in water. Dry and low humidity will prevent their presence.
  • Don’t leave any remaining food overnight without coverage, cleaning of the kitchen regularly is essential.
  • Animal wastes and faecal should be cleaned up daily.
  • Any dead or rotten fruits and vegetables are to be removed from home and refrigerator immediately.
  • Always use a vacuum to dispose them and remember to use gloves.
  • Trap earwig in a rolled up newspaper or old can painted with oil, place the trap near the problem areas and check it every morning. (Sticky trap)
  • Keep your home tidy and clean. These insects search for wet and moist places to live, so to prevent their reproduction maintain the area dry and clean. Convert your backyard into a dry, sunny environment‏.
  • ‏Follow regular checking maintenance on all doors, windows, ceiling and floors. You have to inspect areas for previous insect activity‏.
  • Close all windows at night and check it again before sleeping.
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‏If you have any babies or children, it is better to cover their beds with mesh specialised to keep insects away to prevent them from being bitten by an insect-like earwig bug causing earwig bite‏.

References:
  1. http://www.tandurust.com/alternativetherapies/earwig-bite-symptoms-treatment.html
  2. Engel, M. S. 2009. Gregarious behavior in Cretaceous earwig nymphs (Insecta, Dermaptera) from southwestern France. Geodiversitas 31(1):129–135. Link, Google Scholar
  3. Engel, M. S. 2011. New earwigs in mid-Cretaceous amber from Myanmar (Dermaptera, Neodermaptera).ZooKeys 130:137–152, DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.130.1293. Crossref, Google Scholar
  4. Grimaldi, D., & M. S. Engel. 2005. Evolution of the insects. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK. xv + 755 pp. Google Scholar

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