Insect Bites

Also known as: stings.

What are insect bites/stings?

Insect bites and stings are bites/stings into the skin that cause an allergic/or toxic reaction locally or systemically. While most reactions are localized and mild, they can on occasion result in severe/life-threatening problems.

What causes insect bites/stings?

Insects such as mosquitoes, bees, wasps, hornets, ants, flies, scorpions, fire ants and several other insects can bite or sting the skin.

What are the symptoms of insect bites/stings?

Mild symptoms include redness, itching, stinging, and local swelling. Most will disappear in 1-2 days. Severe reactions result in difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, eyelids or throat, dizziness, faintness or confusion, fast heartbeat, drop in blood pressure, shock, hives, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps.

What are insect bites/stings care options?

Some insect bites and stings require no treatment; other mild reactions can be managed with removing the stinger (if needed), cool compresses, local application of creams, gels or lotions to control pain/itchiness and over-the counter medications like acetaminophen, or an antihistamine.

Other reactions may require immediate first aid and emergency medical care. People who have severe allergic reactions to insect stings should carry epinephrine (an Epi-Pen) with them to help avoid life-threatening complications.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: October 16, 2019 01:41 PM

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