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Negative reaction to a Horsefly Bite


Was it a bee or a horsefly?

Recently whilst holidaying in Wales, my family and I visited Zip World at Penrhyn Quarry and whilst watching 4 humans speed overhead on the zip lines I felt a pain in my right upper arm the resembled a needle being stuck into my skin and removed a fraction of a second later.

I immediately smacked my arm in the hope to swat away whatever had bitten/stung me.

There was nothing there, I also heard no buzzing. My mum checked my arm to see if there was a sting in my arm but it was clear.

My arm began to sting and throb and thankfully I have my medical kit in the car, in which I had an after bite ammonia stick. I used this immediately in the hope it would help reduce the pain.

After some googling and looking at pictures of bites and stings, I came to the conclusion that it was in fact a horsefly!

I was wearing a black t shirt when I was bitten and my research suggested that horseflies are attracted to dark colours, this also helped me to draw the conclusion that it was this greedy monster.

10 minutes after the bite

2 holes! It must have bitten me twice

2 holes! It must have bitten me twice


I continued to use the after bite stick for the next few hours. I’m not convinced it made a lot of difference if I’m honest, but until I arrived home later that day I had no other medication.

I take an antihistamine on a daily basis for allergies and on arriving home I took another to attempt to reduce the swelling and the irritation.

Within 4 hours the area around the bite had begin to feel hard and it was like I had received a TB injection, my arm was tingly and appeared heavy.

I continued to take two antihistamines everyday for the next 5 days and applied E45 anti itch cream, which did help to reduce the itching.

I also applied an ice pack to the area a couple of times to try and reduce the heat in the area, this worked temporarily but withing a few minutes of removing the pack my arm was burning again.

After the first two days the area was still hard under the skin, hot to the touch and was incredibly itchy, so much so that it woke me up at 3am and it was agony trying not to scratch it.

I had to go to the kitchen, take an antihistamine and apply huge quantities of E45 before going back to bed and using ALL of my will power to not scratch the bloody thing.

3am scratch fest!

3am scratch fest!

5 days after and it still itches!

So even after 5 days of being bitten my arm still itches, I’m still applying cream 2/3 times a day and the area still feels very hot to the touch.

I suspect whatever it pumped into my arm reacted badly in my system. You can see on the next picture how the bite site is very small but the red patch underneath that looks all lumpy is the effects of the bite which is still really uncomfortable, although not nearly as itchy and uncomfortable as it has been.

Irritated skin, still looking raw

Irritated skin, still looking raw

On the mend

On day 6, although still itchy the redness has reduced. My arm still feels warm on the area underneath the bite and I’m still applying the E45 itch cream, I appear to be healing.

I continued to take additional antihistamine tablets for roughly 2 weeks to help reduce the itching, as I have quite sensitive skin this certainly helped make it more comfortable.

Thankfully my bite is now fully healed, it has taken about 4 weeks and although the area on my arm looked fully healed it was still on occasions quite itchy. Thankfully that has now gone and my arm is back to normal and thankfully there are no lasting visible signs of the bite.

Horseflies are viscous and will attack relentlessly, it appears that insect repellent is not effective either, so the best way to avoid being bitten are to keep as much of your skin hidden by clothing as possible when out of the house walking near to open fields and cattle.

I don’t EVER want to be bitten by another of these greedy monsters again!


That One Tech Guy from Texas on July 27, 2019:

We have horseflies here too and they are absolutely terrible, sometimes I get bitten when I'm out at the farm and there is almost nothing that hurts worse. I'd rather be stung by a bee or wasp because I have terrible reactions, much like a giant wasp + mosquito bite. Ammonia stick doesn't work I guess because it's not really a poison. However, I have found that Chiggerex (for Chigger bites) works really well. It has Benzocaine in it so it deadens it and reduces pain. As for the swelling, lots and lots of anti-inflammatory pills, so sorry that you had to go through this though!

Besarien from South Florida on July 02, 2019:

I feel terrible for you and the horses too because they probably get stung and bitten a lot. Glad you are feeling better.

Gene David Pangan from W. Australia/Philippines on June 25, 2019:

wow, that's a scary story you got there. In Asia, there are also lots of these bugs around. When I was visiting my relatives in the Philippines we were in a resort in the middle of a farm and we got into a swimming pool. The water is cold in the afternoon and the weather is fine. Then suddenly as our bodies submerged and only our shoulder and heads above water, these little monsters zip around and trying to bite whatever skin they could land on. My brother got caught up in the neck and he said it was painful. He thought it was a bee. But the next one he caught it, it was a horsefly. A large fly that sucks the blood even of animals and they bite painfully. So be aware when going out on any farm or you get a bad reaction to its bite like your story.

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