Insect bites and Lupus

I have a pretty big family history of lupus (SLE). My mother, maternal grandmother and aunty and paternal grandmother all have the condition. I've never had any symptoms that I've attributed to it. However, two weeks ago I got bitten by an insect in France in several places on my legs. The bites have become massively inflamed and red and raised- two of the bite sites have redness for 3 inches around them. I also experience fatigue and joint pain but I usually attribute this to my active and busy life. However, now I'm a little worried after hearing that severe insect bite reactions are common in lupus. Should I get checked for lupus? Thanks

7 Replies

  • I'd say you're more likely to have high levels of histamines in your blood responding to the insect bites. It doesn't necessarily follow that you've got lupus. Having lupus doesn't result in severe reaction to insect bites in all cases, either.

    I'd just go and get some antihistamines over the counter, then see your GP in case these got infected somehow. He/she might give you 2 days worth of steroids to calm the reaction but that is a normal course for most people with reaction such as that.

    However, given your family history and the fact that you're worried about lupus, you might want to mention it to your GP and see what he/she suggests. I suspect that in the absence of other symptoms over a longer period of time, he/she is more likely to tell you to wait and see and go back if lupus-like symptoms develop, or last. But who knows, he might take some blood and test at least to see whether you have a positive ANA.

    Try not to imagine the worst just yet. Focus on calming down this reaction to the insect bites first, then deal with the rest.

  • Thanks for your advice. I went to the GP yesterday and was given 5 days antibiotics and a steroid cream. I've been taking anti histamines for 9 days. Just going to wait and see what happens.

    Didn't mention the lupus to the doctor at the time- he was very busy.

    I've had fatigue and joint pain but I lead a very active life so aren't worried about that. I haven't had a rash or any of the other symptoms.

    If I start to feel unwell or these don't clear I shall go back to my GP.

    Thanks for your advice!

  • I like your attitude & I think Purpletop has given a great reply.

    I've had similar trouble with insect bites all my life, and i think that seeing the gp ASAP for antibiotics & steroid cream is exactly the right thing. Several years ago, I made a bad judgement call re a summer bite here from an insect in the uk:

    My infant onset lupus went unrecognised & without systemic treatment until 3+ years ago....several months after rheumatology started my on hydroxychloroquine, I didn't bother to see the gp, thinking hydroxy would protect me , but the bite turned into proper cellulitis....I did finally see the gp, but had to take extra antibiotics to sort that bite out. And my gp told me that, for insect bites alone, all her colleagues take prescription steroid creams on hols with them : betnovate, or even better the very strongest which is dermovate.

  • Sounds like infection I have a long history of insect bites one still an issue 12 yrs & 3 skin grafts on ! I was only diagnosed recently and all the professionals are saying "ah so now we know why you don't heal" don't get hung up with Lupus but certainly get medical treatment and antibiotics if needed and if your doctor will do the test you've nothing to lose by knowing - good luck

  • Do you know what sort of insect? If you were in woodlands and it was a tick bite then there's a possibility of Lyme disease, so you need to tell your GP that.

  • My insect bites take a long time to freak and when they do about 50% turn into a nasty keloid scar. Basically they become hard lumps and never go away. Because no one would listen to my other symptoms, I am covered in these scars now. Now I know to treat the bites when they happen to avoid the scar. Maybe get tested anyway?

  • I started having bad reactions to bites about 10yr prior to being diagnosed with lupus. I don't know if there is a connection. However, if you are having fatigue and joint pain you might want to mention this and your strong family history of lupus to the doctor - even if you are active and busy I think joint pain should be checked out. I also attributed my joint pains to other causes for at the beginning, and I now realize it was early signs of lupus (along with fatigue and other signs. I also have no malar rash, and not everyone with lupus does).

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