Insect bites and stings may be caused by a variety of bugs. They can cause skin itching, rashes, and swelling. Sometimes a bite or sting can cause a severe allergic reaction.
Most bites and stings can be safely treated with self care and medicines.
Clean the area with soap and water. Wash it 2 to 3 times each day until it has healed.
To ease swelling and discomfort, apply an ice pack to the area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Place a towel between the ice pack and your skin.
Medicines to treat insect bites and stings may be:
Take all the antibiotics you are given. Do this even when you are feeling well.
When taking medicines:
Your doctor may need to check on your progress. Be sure to go to all advised appointments.
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Bug bites and stings. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/insect-bite.html. Accessed September 24, 2021.
Hymenoptera sting allergy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hymenoptera-sting-allergy-14. Accessed September 24, 2021.
Insect bites and stings. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/insect-bites-and-stings. Accessed September 24, 2021.
Stings: hymenoptera (bees, vespids, and fire ants). EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Accessed September 24, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 9/24/2021