Insect bites and stings cause skin reactions. They can include itching, rashes, and sometimes swelling. Most bites and stings can be safely treated at home. Those that cause allergic reactions may require prompt medical attention. If you think that you are having a severe allergic reaction, seek medical help immediately.
Insect bites and stings are caused by:
Biting insects (eg, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and spiders)
Stinging insects (eg, bees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and fire ants)
The following factors increase your chances of being bitten or stung by an insect:
Performing work or spending time outdoors
Living in warmer climates
Lacking proper protection
Forgetting to use flea and tick preventive measures for pets
Collecting insects as a hobby
If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is only because of an insect bite. These symptoms may be caused by other health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.
The most common symptoms of insect bites and stings include:
Mild swelling around the affected area
Redness around the affected area
Pain around the affected area
Heat around the affected area
Itching around the affected area
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If you experience a severe allergic reaction, get medical help immediately. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:
Shortness of breath
Swelling, redness, or hives covering most of your body
A feeling that your throat is closing up
Nausea or vomiting
Chills, muscle aches, or cramps
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
If the insect bite requires medical attention, your doctor will evaluate your symptoms. The doctor will determine if you are having an allergic reaction or other medical problem caused by the bite or sting. You will be asked about the type of insect that bit or stung you. If possible, try to obtain a sample of the insect responsible for the bite or sting.
If you were bitten by a spider and were able to safely kill it, take the spider to the doctor with you. Some spider bites may require blood tests such as:
Complete blood count
Most insect bites and stings can be safely treated at home. If this is the case, take the following steps:
If there is a stinger, carefully remove it. This can be done by scraping it with a sharp edge, such as a credit card.
If you find a tick, carefully remove it from the head as soon as possible. Tweezers are often effective in doing this. Be careful to gently tug on the tick. Rock it back and forth until the jaws release.
Wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water.
Place an ice pack or cold compress on the affected area for 15 minutes every few hours.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a