There are many kinds of insects that bite, including mosquitos, fleas, spiders, bed bugs, and chiggers. And there are some that sting, such as bees, wasps, fire ants, and scorpions.

The symptoms of insect bites or stings vary depending on the severity of the body's reaction to the insect's venom. Most reactions are mild, with an annoying itch or a stinging sensation and slight swelling. Bites or stings that are severe should be treated immediately.

Treating Mild Bites or Stings

  • Move away from the area to avoid additional bites or stings.
  • To reduce pain and swelling, apply a cold pack or cloth filled with ice.
  • Apply a 1% or 0.5% hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, or a baking soda paste to the bite or sting several times a day.
  • Refrain from scratching, which can lead to infection. If you suspect that a bite or sting is infected, consider seeking medical treatment to prevent further complications.

Treating Severe Bites or Stings

Severe bites or stings should always receive immediate medical treatment. 

Call 911 or get immediate medical help if:

  • There are no signs of breathing. 
  • There is evidence of significant difficulty breathing, such as wheezing. 
  • Swelling of the lips or tongue.
The symptoms of insect bites or stings vary depending on the severity of the body's reaction to the insect's venom.

While waiting for medical treatment:

  • Check for special medications, such as an EpiPen®, that the affected person might be carrying to treat a severe allergic reaction, which can bring on anaphylactic shock.
  • If possible, have the person take an over-the-counter antihistamine, as directed on the bottle.
  • Have the person lie still on his back, with feet held above heart level.
  • Do not offer anything to drink.
  • Loosen tight clothing. Cover the person with a blanket.
  • If there is vomiting, turn the person to the side to prevent choking.

 

EpiPen® is a registered trademark of Mylan Inc.