Insect bites and stings may be caused by a variety of bugs. You may or may not know what bit you. A bite or sting may go unnoticed or can cause irritating skin reactions. Most bites and stings can be safely treated at home.
For some people, insect bites or stings can cause severe allergic reactions. These reactions will require prompt medical attention. If you think that you are having a severe allergic reaction, call for emergency medical services right away.
Not all insect bites or stings require medical attention.
If you have had a severe reaction, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will be asked about the type of insect that bit or stung you. If possible, try to obtain a sample of the insect.
Your doctor will use this information to understand what is causing your symptoms and how to treat them.
Most insect bites and stings can be safely treated at home. If you know you already have a tick allergy, do not remove the tick. Instead, seek medical attention. Removing the tick may cause it to inject more allergen-containing saliva.
After a bite or sting:
Wash the affected area with soap and water.
Place an ice pack or cold compress on the affected area. Use the ice for about 15 minutes every few hours. Do not place the ice directly on the skins
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to reduce pain or swelling.
To help relieve itching use:
Topical steroid creams such as hydrocortisone
Sometimes the insect or part of the insect may be left behind in the skin. Removing them will help the area heal and avoid further irritation or infection.
To remove a stinger—Use a sharp edge, such as a credit card. Gently scrape the edge over the site to push the stinger out.
To remove a tick—Use tweezers to grasp the tick by the head. Pull the tick gently but firmly up and away from the skin. Hold the tick just above the skin until it releases its bite.