Arthropods in dermatology

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004 Jun;50(6):819-42, quiz 842-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2003.12.019.


Arthropods are important in medicine for a multitude of reasons. Their bites and stings may induce allergic reactions, ranging from annoying to life-threatening. Many arthropod products are also capable of inciting allergic responses in sensitized persons. In recent years, bites and stings have gained greater attention owing to increased concern about disease transmission. A common hypersensitivity response to arthropod bites, stings, and products is papular urticaria. This eruption occurs primarily in children, who eventually "outgrow" this disease, probably through desensitization after multiple arthropod exposures. Papular urticaria is most often caused by fleas or bedbugs, but virtually any arthropod is capable of inducing such a reaction. Two arthropod classes of medical importance are the Arachnida (spiders, scorpions, ticks, and mites) and the Insecta (lice, fleas, bedbugs, flies, bees, and ants). Animals in these two classes are probably responsible for more morbidity and mortality worldwide than are any other group of venomous creatures. In general, the diagnosis of arthropod bites and stings is dependent on maintenance of a high index of suspicion and familiarity with the arthropod fauna not only in one's region of practice, but also in the travel regions of one's patients. Learning objective At the completion of this learning activity, participants should be familiar with the clinical manifestations caused by a variety of arthropods as well as the treatment and possible sequelae of arthropod attacks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ants
  • Arthropods*
  • Bedbugs
  • Bees
  • Bites and Stings*
  • Culicidae
  • Diptera
  • Humans
  • Insect Bites and Stings
  • Lice Infestations
  • Mites
  • Scorpion Stings
  • Scorpions
  • Siphonaptera
  • Spider Bites
  • Ticks
  • Urticaria
  • Wasps