Ankle Biters Beware: Understanding What’s Biting your Foot and Ankle

Bug bites are seemingly inevitable when spending time outside and feet and ankles are a sweet spot for many insects to latch on to. While a mosquito bite can often be easily spotted (especially if you catch the critter in the act!), other insect bites on the lower extremity may be a bit more irritating or worrisome.

Ticks causing Lyme disease frequently transfer the disease to human through a bite on the ankle or lower leg region. If you have been bit by a tick that did transfer the disease, a small raised lesion initially appears at the site of the bite. This small bump will then spread to for a ring of redness with a central area of clearing that may be the color of normal skin or slightly blue. This bulls-eye shaped lesion is a characteristic of Lyme disease called “erythema migrans”. Symptoms that occur along with the rash in the initial stage of Lyme disease that occurs days to weeks after the tick bite resemble the flu. If the disease is not caught early, typically by knowledge of being bit by a tick or the appearance of a bulls-eye rash that is most commonly seen on the ankles and legs, it may progress to the brain and heart. Preventative measures should be taken when going into the woods to avoid tick bites. Using tick-repellent bug spray and wearing appropriate shoe gear and pants to keep the feet and ankles protected can help avoid bites.

Even if you don’t own a dog or cat, a visit to Alum Creek State Park Beach or other Columbus area beaches can cause you to acquire bites on your feet and ankles from an unlikely suspect this summer. The same fleas the bite pets will also humans, and these fleas can be found at beaches. These bites typically occur in a linear pattern of three or four bites on the foot and ankle as the flea “samples” several areas while feeding. Raised bumps will occur that may have a center that bleeds. These bumps are extremely itchy and irritating to the flea’s victim. Topical medications can be prescribed to lessen the itchiness until the bumps resolve if your podiatrist diagnoses you with this type of bite. Excessive scratching of an irritated bite can lead to open wounds and infection and should be avoided.

While these are only two types of bites that commonly occur on the foot and ankle with increased frequency in summer months, many others exist. Regular self-examination of your feet can help catch a more serious bite, such as from a lyme-disease carrying tick, early on in the disease process. If irritating rashes, bites or unusual swelling are found on the feet contact your podiatrist to obtain a correct diagnosis and learn how to treat the irritation and avoid future bites.

Please visit for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington. If you would like to see a podiatrist in Dublin, Ohio near Tuttle Crossing, call 614-885-3338 for an appointment.

By Dr. Animesh (Andy) Bhatia