How to Identify and Treat Gnat Bites?

Gnat bites

We have all experienced those annoying little bugs flying in front of your face, flying in your eyes, and sometimes even flying into your open mouth. Gnats are annoying when they fly around, and gnat bites can cause a lot of discomfort.

They are worse during the midsummer heat especially when it is hot and humid. These tiny bugs which you can barely see are experts at avoiding your swats. Gnats bite as well, and the bites are red and itchy.

Let’s see if gnats really bite, how do gnat bites look like and gnat bite treatment.

Related Reading: How To Treat Horsefly Bites?

What Are Gnats? Can Gnats Bite?

Gnats are tiny flies also known as midges or black flies. Gnats are tiny flying insects which can be difficult to see. They are long-legged and a relative of the mosquito. Gnats are found across the globe and live in warm moist places where they can lay their eggs.

Gnats do bite. A gnat bites warm-blooded animals and unsuspecting humans, but not all biting gnats bite humans.

Gnat bites

Can Gnats Bite You?

All gnats do not bite. There are six species which bite. A gnat bite is not similar to a mosquito bite. Gnats break the skin with cutters inside their mouth, and the cut resembles like that of a surgeon.

Gnats bite to feed on the warm blood of animals and humans because they need blood to survive. They cannot bite through clothing but are small enough to squeeze beneath your clothes and can crawl into your hair. The most common biting gnats are:

  • Deer flies
  • Buffalo gnats
  • Biting midges
  • Stable flies
  • Sand flies

The gnat injects an anti-clotting substance into the wound which prevents it from clotting. It makes gnats suck blood with ease.

Gnat bites have been known to be quite painful, and a gnat bite can lose more blood as compared to a mosquito bite. Because the gnat is small, all areas of your body are susceptible to gnat bites.

What Do Gnat Bites Look Like?

Gnat bites are tiny red spots that look like small pinpricks. Gnat bites are also characterized by red welts. Do gnat bites itch? Yes, they do. Gnat bites are itchy and sometimes extremely painful.

Swelling occurs around the site causing irritation, redness and overall discomfort. As the bite starts to swell, itching can get intensified. The bite area sometimes results in a small amount of blood at the surface of your skin.

The skin surrounding the bite might be red as well. In extreme cases, you may feel a slight heat or fever, and there have been rare cases of an allergic reaction to a gnat bite. Because the bite site is irritating and itchy, the site is prone to infection.

Infected bites can make the swelling worse, make the area more painful and in some cases lead to accumulation of pus as your body attempts to fight the infection. On the other hand, gnat bites can be painless.

Related Reading: Yellow Jacket Stings: Symptoms and Home Remedies

How Long Do Gnat Bites Last?

Gnat bites are a lot like mosquito bites and how long do gnat bites last depends on the number of bites and how your body reacts to those bites.

Gnat bites can last anywhere from two to seven days. Additionally, complications such as infections or allergic reactions could result in the bite lasting more than one week.

To avoid a gnat bite accompanied by infection, you should not scratch the bite.

How to Treat Gnat Bites?

Most of the time, you do not need any gnat bite treatment. But if you experience extreme itching and unbearable pain you can opt for the remedies which tell you how to treat gnat bites.

1. Wash the Bite Site Thoroughly

Wash the site with soap and water and apply an antiseptic like alcohol. Naturally speaking, diluted lavender or rosemary oil would be a great option.

2. Reduce the Swelling

Reduce swelling and minimize the itch by using one of the following methods:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Anti-inflammatory properties of apple cider vinegar can relieve swelling and itchiness.
  • Apply Ice: Applying ice to the bite area for about 15 – 20 minutes will reduce swelling and numb the area alleviating the itch.
  • Use Essential Oils: Essential oils act as good natural repellents. For example, thyme mixed with apple cider vinegar can be effective against gnat bites. Other oils listed below can help as well.
    • Lavender
    • Tea Tree
    • Lemon Balm
    • Chamomile
    • Thyme
    • Basil
    • Eucalyptus
    • Peppermint
  • Neosporin and Pain Relief Ointment: Neosporin can help prevent infections and relieve pain.
  • Aspirin Paste: Aspirin paste has also been known to be helpful.
  • Apply Anti-itch Cream: Anti-itch cream like Cortizone-10 cream will temporarily relieve the itchiness.
  • Cold Shower: Taking a cold shower for about ten minutes can also make you feel better.

How to Prevent Gnat Bites?

  • Bug repellant sprays and topical creams can prevent gnats from biting you. Active ingredients in the sprays and creams will keep gnats away from you.
  • Avoiding ponds and pools during daylight hours or near porch lights at twilight can also be effective.
  • Additionally, wearing socks, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants can prevent gnat bites.
  • Finally, eliminate all things that attract gnats to your environment like wet towels, standing water, dirty kitchen counters, and any gaps under windows or underneath doors so that the gnats cannot thrive.
  • Bleach kills gnats so if you pour small amounts of bleach where water usually collects in your house it will help kill and prevent gnats.
  • Stay away from stagnant water as it is a breeding place for gnats.
  • You might also create a trap by filling a jar with apple cider vinegar. Close the lid and poke several holes in the lid. The gnats will get attracted to the vinegar but will not be able to escape the jar.
  • Gnats are attracted to the yellow color so using a yellow colored card attached to a popsicle stick covered in honey will attract the gnats and they will stick to the honey.

When to See a Doctor?

Certain symptoms from gnat bites can make you consult a doctor. Symptoms to look for include:

  • Huge swelling
  • An uncomfortable feeling
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Hives
  • Pus from the bite wound
  • Rashes or redness around the bite

When the bite site excretes pus, it is a sign that an infection is present and a doctor should be consulted immediately.

“4 Fast Ways to Treat Gnat Bites & How to Prevent Infection,”, last accessed Oct 5, 2017
“Gnat Bite Remedies,”, last accessed Oct 5, 2017
“How to Reduce the Pain of Gnat Bites,”, last accessed Oct 5, 2017

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James Concato

James Concato is a Hospital Administrator in the Chicagoland area. He has been in healthcare for more than 25 years. He holds a Masters Degree in Healthcare Administration from Quinnipiac University and has worked in or lead many different departments. Writing on cancer treatment and cancer prevention through natural treatments is his passion. James, like many others, has had family members pass away from cancer and he knows that Cancer screening is the key to better outcomes. As an administrator of different physician practices like Pediatrics, Surgery, Anesthesia, and Oncology James brings a wealth of knowledge to his writing. James is interested in educating the public through his writing.