Insect bites and stings can cause an immediate skin reaction. The bite from fire ants and the sting from bees, wasps, and hornets are usually painful. Bites caused by mosquitoes, fleas, and mites are more likely to cause itching than pain.
Bedbug bite; Bee sting; Bites – insects, bees, and spiders; Black widow spider bite; Brown recluse bite; Flea bite; Honey bee or hornet sting; Lice bites; Mite bite; Scorpion bite; Spider bite; Wasp sting; Yellow jacket sting
In most cases, bites and stings can be easily treated at home. However, some people have a severe allergic reaction to insect bites and stings. This is a life-threatening allergic reaction known as
Some spider bites, like those of the
The nonemergency symptoms vary according to the type of insect and the individual. Most people have localized pain, redness, swelling, or itching. You may also feel burning, numbness, or tingling.
For emergencies (severe reactions):
- Check the person’s airways and breathing. If necessary, call 911 and begin rescue breathing and
- Reassure the person. Try to keep him or her calm.
- Remove nearby rings and constricting items because the affected area may swell.
- Use the person’s EpiPen or other emergency kit, if they have one. (Some people who have serious insect reactions carry it with them.)
- If appropriate, treat the person for signs of
shock. Remain with the person until medical help arrives.
General steps for most bites and stings:
- Remove the stinger if still present by scraping the back of a credit card or other straight-edged object across the stinger. Do not use tweezers — these may squeeze the venom sac and increase the amount of venom released.
- Wash the site thoroughly with soap and water.
- Place ice (wrapped in a washcloth) on the site of the sting for 10 minutes and then off for 10 minutes. Repeat this process.
- If necessary, take an antihistamine, or apply creams that reduce itching.
- Over the next several days, watch for signs of infection (such as increasing redness, swelling, or pain).
- Do NOT apply a tourniquet.
- Do NOT give the person stimulants, aspirin, or other
pain medicationunless prescribed by the doctor.
Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if
Call 911 if the person is having a severe reaction:
Trouble breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath
Swelling anywhere on the face or in the mouth
Throat tightness or difficulty swallowing
- Avoid provoking insects whenever possible.
- Avoid rapid, jerky movements around insect hives or nests.
- Avoid perfumes and floral-patterned or dark clothing.
- Use appropriate insect repellants and protective clothing.
- Use caution when eating outdoors, especially with sweetened beverages or in areas around garbage cans, which often attract bees.
- For those who have a serious allergy to insect bites or stings, carry an emergency epinephrine kit (which requires a prescription). Friends and family should be taught how to use it if you have a reaction. Wear a medical ID bracelet.