Top of the pageCheck Your Symptoms
Insect and spider bites often cause minor swelling, redness, pain, and itching. These mild reactions are common. They may last from a few hours to a few days. Home treatment is often all that's needed to relieve the symptoms of a mild reaction to common stinging or biting spiders and insects, such as fleas, flies, and mosquitoes.
Some people have more severe reactions to bites or stings. Babies and children may be more affected than adults are.
Examples of problems that are more serious include:
Insects that cause mild reactions include:
Some insects are more likely than others to cause allergic or toxic reactions.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) may include:
A severe reaction can be life-threatening. If you have had a bad allergic reaction to a substance before and are exposed to it again, treat any symptoms as an emergency. Even if the symptoms are mild at first, they may quickly become very severe.
Symptoms of infection may include:
Pain in adults and older children
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may quickly occur after a sudden illness or injury.
Adults and older children often have several symptoms of shock. These include:
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may occur quickly after a sudden illness or injury.
Babies and young children often have several symptoms of shock. These include:
Usually found in dirt and soil, tetanus bacteria typically enter the body through a wound. Wounds may include a bite, a cut, a puncture, a burn, a scrape, insect bites, or any injury that may cause broken skin. Tetanus can also happen with other infections, like dental infections. It can happen during a surgery or pregnancy and delivery.
A wound can be so small, you may not notice you have one. Or a skin blister could break and become an open wound. If there is any delay in finding or cleaning a wound, there is an increased risk for skin infection and a chance for tetanus to get in the wound. A tetanus infection can start 3 to 21 days after the bacteria enter the wound. Be especially careful about wounds on your fingers and toes.
Many people may not know when they got their last tetanus shot. So it's a good idea to call your doctor to see if you need one.
Make sure to stay up to date on your tetanus shots. A tetanus shot is recommended:
Sudden tiny red or purple spots or sudden bruising may be early symptoms of a serious illness or bleeding problem. There are two types.
Petechiae (say "puh-TEE-kee-eye"):
Purpura (say "PURR-pyuh-ruh" or "PURR-puh-ruh"):
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call 911 or other emergency services now.
Sometimes people don't want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. Or they might be concerned about the cost. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Most bites and stings will heal on their own. Here are some things you can do at home.
Move away from the stinging or biting insect. Bees will alert other bees, making them more likely to sting.
Movement makes venom spread faster in the bloodstream.
If you were stung by a bee and the stinger is still in the skin, remove the stinger as soon as you can.
After contact with a puss caterpillar, remove broken-off spines. Do this by placing cellophane tape or commercial facial peel over the area of the contact and pulling it off.
If you were stung by a scorpion, call the local poison centre or see a healthcare provider right away.
These medicines may not be safe for children younger than age 6 or for people who have certain health problems. Before you use them, check the label. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and, in some cases, weight. You may need to check with your doctor or pharmacist about using these medicines.
Some people try a home remedy, such as putting witch hazel or underarm deodorant on the bite. Home remedies haven't been proven scientifically to help. But they usually won't hurt you if you want to try them.
Signs of infection include:
Call a doctor if any of the following occur during self-care at home:
Stinging or biting insects and spiders
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared for your appointment.
Adaptation Date: 1/18/2024
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated. All rights reserved. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.