Insect bites during pregnancy may be harmless, but they may also endanger you and your unborn child. Diseases from insects can transfer from mother to child and cause pregnancy complications. Additionally, what seems like a bug bite could be a more-serious condition, such as papular dermatitis. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Insect bites come from various sources including fleas, ticks, lice, bed bugs and mosquitoes. Different diseases pose greater risks depending on where you live. For example, mosquitoes pose a greater danger of West Nile Virus in New York City, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, but dengue virus is more of a risk from mosquitoes in parts of California. The risk of transferring a virus you contracted from an insect to your unborn child varies depending on the disease.
Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or your local health department, to determine elevated risks from insect bites in your area 2. Call or search for information on insect-contracted diseases that pose pregnancy risks. Some diseases may not transfer directly to the fetus, but if they affect you, they can also influence the course of your pregnancy. Discuss any travel plans with your doctor, who may recommend preventative measures for bug bites in foreign countries.
Pregnant women should protect themselves from mosquito bites, and insect repellant can help when used properly. Apply insect repellants only as directed by the label instructions. If you want to avoid using insect repellant, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect your skin and stay away from mosquito habitats. If you are nursing and using insect repellant, wash your hands and breasts with soap and water before breastfeeding.
A skin condition called papular dermatitis may look like bug bites, writes Dr. Jyoti Ramani for Net Doctor 1. Symptoms include an itchy rash and raised red spots that may develop scabs and do not appear in groups. According to Ramani, the rash can appear anytime during pregnancy on any part of your body, but it clears up after birth. Papular dermatitis requires medical treatment and may cause fetal death. Ramani also notes that insect bites may look unusual due to pregnancy hormones, so it's best to discuss any skin changes with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis 1.
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images