Insect bites and stings are fairly common, especially for those who are active outdoors. Most insect bites and stings result in mild reactions and require little, if any, first aid to treat them. In the majority of cases, symptoms will resolve any time from within a few hours up to two days. In rare cases, an insect bite or sting can cause a severe reaction or can transmit disease. Symptoms may be due to an allergic reaction, a toxin injected into the body during the bite or sting, or the transmission of pathogens.
What can I do for mild reactions that are uncomfortable?
Mild insect bites and stings may cause redness, puffiness or swelling, itching, or stinging. For these reactions, you can help to alleviate symptoms by removing the stinger (if needed), washing the affected area with soap and water, applying a cool compress to help with swelling, and applying hydrocortisone cream, calamine cream, or a paste made from baking soda and water. You may also want to take an antihistamine (follow instructions on the box for the age of the person who received the sting). You can repeat these steps every few hours until the symptoms are gone.
When is a bug bite or sting an emergency?
In rare cases, a person may be allergic to the bite or sting of an insect, or the insect may have transmitted disease through their bite. Seek emergency medical care if any of the following symptoms occur after an insect bite or sting:
- Swelling of the lips, eyes, or throat
- Feeling dizzy, faint, or confused
- difficulty breathing
- Muscle aches or cramping
- Nausea, stomach pains, or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fever, chills, or sweating
When seeking medical treatment, the doctor will ask about the insect in question in order to determine if the reaction is an allergy, due to a toxin, or possibly due to an illness brought on by pathogens transmitted during the bite. Try to identify or be able to describe the insect, especially for spiders, ticks, scorpions, and flying insects (such as bees, wasps, hornets, etc.).
Everyone there was great. They were polite, quick, and thorough. The nurse who cared for my daughter’s and I, was friendly and put my daughter’s nerves at ease.– Taylor