Lymphangitis after an insect bite

What is lymphangitis after an insect bite?

Lymphangitis does not always have to be associated with an insect bite. In itself, lymphangitis is a relatively rare inflammation of the lymph vessels that are located in the subcutaneous fatty tissue. In the past, lymphangitis was also known colloquially as "blood poisoning", which is not entirely correct. In the further course, however, the lymphangitis can develop into blood poisoning, known as sepsis, if the inflammation spreads from the lymph vessels to the blood. However, the insect bite is just one of many ways in which lymphangitis can occur.

You might also be interested in this topic: Blood poisoning after an insect bite


In connection with the insect bite, bacteria are the cause of the development of lymphangitis. These are either brought directly into the human skin through the bite or later rubbed into the wound through itching and scratching. If the sting and thus also the bacteria accidentally hit a lymph vessel, it can become inflamed.

As the lymph moves along the lymphatic system towards the heart, the inflammation also spreads in this direction. A cardinal symptom of inflammation becomes apparent on the surface of the skin, namely reddening.
In extremely rare cases, lymphangitis can also be a form of allergic reaction to the insect venom, which then spreads along the lymphatic system.As a rule, however, it is bacterial inflammation that is responsible for the clinical picture.

Find out more about the topic: Inflamed insect bite


The diagnosis results from a combination of the clinical picture of the disease and the corresponding inflammation values ​​in the blood count. If the inflammation spreads to the blood and there are enough bacteria in the blood, the causative pathogen can also be identified by taking a blood sample.

In addition, those affected usually have a fever or other symptoms of an infection. Most of the time, however, it is “the red line” that spreads from the extremities towards the heart.

These are the symptoms I can tell if I have lymphangitis after an insect bite

There is no clear symptom of lymphangitis after an insect bite. The first clues, however, may be that the actual insect bite becomes infected, begins to fester or takes significantly longer to heal.

Another clear indication of the presence of lymphangitis is a reddened stripe that appears superficially and runs along the lymph vessels. The spread of this reddening increases from day to day if the inflammation is not treated. The direction in which the reddening progresses is adapted to the lymph flow; from the periphery to the center, where the lymph vessels collect and return the lymph to the venous blood system.

Most of the affected people also complain of unspecific symptoms such as fatigue, muscle and limb pain, etc. Furthermore, the reddened region is tender, which is a further indication of an inflammation that occurs just under the skin.

Also read the article: How dangerous is lymphangitis?


The therapy of lymphangitis depends on the stage of the disease at which the therapy is initiated. In most cases, the body's own immune system can cope with the invading bacteria, unless the sting hits a blood or lymphatic vessel.
Another important factor is the pathogen load that is carried into the wound when the sting or afterwards. If it is high, inflammation can develop more easily than if only very few pathogens get into the wound. Local measures could include, for example, the application of an iodine patch, which has an antiseptic effect.

But even when the inflammation has already occurred, the body's defenses can still be sufficient to treat itself. If this does not succeed, however, antibiotics usually have to be used. Depending on the bacterium present, surgical opening of the inflammation may also be necessary.


Antibiotics are usually used when it is foreseeable that the body's defenses are insufficient to get the inflammation under control. Since the lymphangitis after an insect bite is caused by bacteria in almost all cases, treatment with antibiotics is the logical consequence.

At the beginning, a relatively unspecific broad spectrum antibiotic is usually started, which covers as many bacterial pathogens as possible. However, by taking blood cultures, the exact pathogen that causes the inflammation can be determined. You can then continue with a specific antibiosis, which is more effective against the specific pathogen.

Duration / forecast

A general prognosis or a statement about the duration cannot be made with lymphangitis. The requirements of those affected can be too different. The better the body's own defense system, the better the prognosis and, as a rule, the shorter the duration. In addition, the time at which antibiotic therapy is started is also decisive. If you notice that the immune system is unable to cope with the inflammation, every hour earlier in the hospital is associated with a slightly better prognosis.

Nevertheless, lymphangitis in Germany is no longer a disease that is associated with death. Only in very rare and serious cases can lymphangitis through sepsis lead to death.

Also read our article: The duration of lymphangitis.

Course of disease

Similar to prognosis and duration, the course of the disease also depends on many different factors. As a rule, the use of antibiotics heals the lymphangitis without consequences. In some cases, however, the lymphatic vessels can become blocked after the inflammation, which can result in lymphatic congestion.
Only in very few cases does lymphangitis result in severe impairment or even death, even if the disease is still known under the pseudonym blood poisoning.

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