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Insect Bites, Stings, and Allergic Reactions

Insect Bites, Stings, and Allergic Reactions Range From Mild to Severe

Insect bites and stings are unfortunately a normal part of spending time outside. You can treat and recover from bites at home in most cases, but that isn’t always true. You could have an allergic reaction to the insect bite or develop a dangerous infection. When that happens, it’s essential to visit a local emergency room. Your medical care team can treat your allergic reaction and provide antibiotics if needed. In serious cases, the treatment can save your life.

When Is an Insect Bite or Sting an Emergency?

Knowing the signs of an emergency is critical for your well-being. Visit the emergency room if:

  • You have difficulty breathing and swallowing.
  • You are experiencing swelling or tingling in your lips, eyelids, or throat.
  • You feel dizzy, faint, or confused.
  • You are experiencing nausea, cramps, and vomiting.
  • You have hives.
  • Your heart is beating rapidly.
  • You develop a fever.
  • Your pain increases.
  • You notice red streaks running from the bite.

What If You Have a Severe Allergic Attack?

If you have a severe allergic attack after an insect bite or sting, use your epinephrine auto-injector. Then, call 911.

If you do not have an epinephrine auto-injector, call 911 immediately. After treatment, you can receive a prescription to take home to use if you have another attack.

Insect Bite Treatment

If the bite isn’t a medical emergency, you can treat it at home. Some people try their hands at identifying insect bite pictures before starting at-home treatment. Fortunately, bites and stings typically respond to the same at-home treatment, regardless of the type of insect. Thus, looking through pictures isn’t necessary.

First, use soap and water to clean the area. Then, apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone ointment to control the itching and bandage it. You can also take an antihistamine to reduce the swelling.

Insect Bite Treatment for Medical Emergencies

You might experience an allergic reaction as a result of the bite or sting. If it causes an anaphylactic attack, you need immediate treatment. Your treatment might include oxygen, IV cortisone and antihistamines, a beta-agonist, and epinephrine.

Even without a severe allergic reaction, you might need prescription antibiotics. Also, if you have an abscess, your physician might need to drain it before you go home.

While insect bites and stings generally respond to at-home treatment, they can cause complications. Keep the signs of a medical emergency in mind when evaluating your situation and visit the ER if you have an emergency.