Insect Bites and Stings

Most insects won’t usually attack a human unless disturbed or provoked. However, bites and stings are still a fairly common occurrence. Generally, an insect bite or sting will only cause minimal discomfort, irritation and pain.

Bees, wasps, hornets, fire ants, and yellow jackets are members of the Hymenoptera family. Bites and stings from this species could cause serious reactions in people who are allergic (anaphylaxis), which requires immediate medical treatment.

Mosquitos are also common in many countries and can carry a range of diseases, including malaria, dengue fever and various viruses and parasites.

Insect bites of all kinds are at risk of becoming infected and you may notice increased swelling in the affected area, as well as pus collecting in and around the bite.

Symptoms

If you have been stung or bitten by an insect, you may experience a combination of reactions to that event including:

  • Itchy lump or rash on the sting or bite site
  • Swollen or fluid-filled blister
  • Bruising

These symptoms will most likely resolve themselves without treatment in a matter of days. If they don’t resolve themselves, or if you experience any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Joint pain
  • Sickness
  • A high temperature (38C to 40C or more)

These symptoms are not so common and if present they may indicate a deeper problem or issue, such as an allergic reaction. You should call an ambulance if you are having difficulty breathing.

Treatment

Removing a sting: If you notice you have been stung by a bee you should remove the sting and the attached sac. Try not to pinch with tweezers/fingers as this could cause the venom to spread. Instead, use a hard surface such as a clean butter knife to scrape away the sting.

Treating a sting: Most bites and stings will clear up within a few hours. However, if you notice severe swelling, rashes or any other worrying symptoms, you should consult a doctor who may prescribe allergy medication.

Similarly, if you’ve been to an area where insect-borne diseases are common and notice you’ve been bitten, it’s well worth getting checked up.

Our GPs can examine your insect bite, diagnose whether it could pose a serious problem and if required, prescribe the medication you need to tackle the problem.