Insect and spider bites often cause minor
swelling, redness, pain, and itching. These mild reactions are common and may
last from a few hours to a few days. Home treatment is often all that is needed
to relieve the symptoms of a mild reaction to
common stinging or biting insects and spiders.
Some people have more severe reactions to bites or stings. Babies and
children may be more affected by bites or stings than adults.
Examples of problems that are more serious include:
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you
should see a doctor.
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Symptoms of infection may
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.
Pain in adults and older children
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
You may need a tetanus shot depending
on how dirty the wound is and how long it has been since your last shot.
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 need
or other emergency services now.
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may occur quickly
after a sudden illness or injury.
Symptoms of shock in a child may include:
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Shock is a life-threatening condition that may quickly occur
after a sudden illness or injury.
Symptoms of shock (most of which will be present) include:
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
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:
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Most bites and stings will
heal on their own without a visit to a doctor. There are several things you can
do to relieve pain and itching and prevent infection from a bite or
Insect or spider bites or stings or contact with caterpillars
Relieve pain, itching, and swelling
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
home remedy, such as putting witch hazel or underarm deodorant on the bite. Home remedies haven't been proven
scientifically, but usually they won't hurt you if you want to try them.
Prevent a skin infection
For home treatment of lice, scabies, tick bites, bedbugs, or kissing bugs,
see the topics
Bedbugs, and Kissing Bugs.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
Take the following measures to help
prevent bites and stings.
Additional measures include those to:
If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to
bites or stings in the past:
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
July 8, 2013
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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