Insect bites and stings - Treatment
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
For emergencies (severe reactions):
- Check the person's airways and breathing. If necessary, call 911 and begin rescue breathing and CPR.
- 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 medication unless 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
- Feeling weak
- Turning blue
- Reviewed last on: 1/13/2010
- Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Schlossberg D. Arthropods and leeches. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 380.
Fradin MS. Protection from blood-feeding arthropods. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 41.
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