An Australian woman is warning other travellers after she returned home from a trip to Bali with severe burn marks all over her leg.
The woman shared the shocking images of her mysterious marks on social media and revealed she had been burnt by an exotic insect which is toxic to humans.
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“Would love to know other people’s experience who have been burnt by a tomcat insect in Bali and if their burn mark completely healed?” Cindel Lewis asked on Facebook.
Cindel explained she “didn’t even feel it happen” and had “just woken up to the marks on her legs”.
The painful bun-like blisters were caused by a rove beetle, that is similar in size to an ant and known in Indonesia as tomcats.
Cindel said she was burnt more than two weeks ago and had seen a doctor, who prescribed a 1% cortisone cream.
“But even though the burn has mostly peeled, I’m still left with burnt-looking skin underneath,” she said.
“Would love to know of anything to put on it to help because everything I’d usually use on a burn is just flaring it up again!”
Other Bali travellers in the group were confused by the images, with some saying they had never heard of the insect.
“Never in 50 years heard of this,” one man commented.
“What is a tomcat? A male cat or something Balinese please?” questioned another.
However, fellow Aussie traveller Aieshya O’Mara discovered she, too, had been burnt by the insect.
Aieshya commented on the post, sharing images of her leg which had been badly burnt in a similar way.
“You just helped me figure out how I got my burns in Bali six weeks ago,” she said.
Aieshya told 7NEWS.com.au her burns took about two to three weeks to heal before they began to scar.
“It was very sore at the time, but it’s fine now,” she said.
However, others say their scars from tomcat burns have lasted much longer.
“Seven weeks and counting, mine was quite bad, now it just looks like a bruise,” one man commented along with images of his burn marks.
One woman said her scars remained for years.
“Yes, it takes a couple of years, but it does heal and my scars have gone,” she said.
What to do if you are burnt
According to NSW Health, there is “no specific first aid available for exposure to rove beetle toxin”.
NSW Health recommends:
- Avoid touching rove beetles
- Blow or wash beetles off your skin
- Minimise lighting in infested areas at night
- Wear long-sleeved and long-legged clothing to minimise exposed skin
- Keep insect screens closed on tents to keep the beetles out of bedding
- Have bottles of soapy water handy for first aid
- If a rove beetle is accidentally crushed against the skin, immediately wash the affected area with soap and water
- Use cold compresses, and antihistamines, or apply aloe vera to alleviate the symptoms on exposed areas