Bites and Stings

Bites and Stings

Almost everyone has experienced an insect bite or an annoying sting at some point in their life.

Bites and stings can be caused by a number of different bugs insects, while most are harmless and heal on their own, others are more serious, painful, annoying, or may need medical treatment.

Bites vs Stings

Thought they can both feel painful when they happen, bites and stings are different.

An insect bite involves them biting and piercing the skin, and may include the them injecting anticoagulant saliva to help them feed on your blood.

An insect sting, on the other hand, involves them transferring venom into your system, often as a defense mechanism.


Symptoms for bites and stings differ depending on which insect did it, as well on the person getting bitten or stung; someone with an allergy will have more serious symptoms than someone that doesn’t, for example.

Common symptoms of a mild reaction to a bite or sting include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Redness or rash
  • Itchy feeling
  • Heat on (or around) the bite or sting
  • Numb or tingling feeling

Common symptoms of moderate to severe reactions to a bite or sting include:

  • Fever
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle spasms
  • Swelling, partially the lips, tongue, throat, eyelids, ears, hands, or feet
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shock
  • Infection at the site of bite or sting


Proper treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms, and insect that caused the bite or sting.

For minor symptoms, most of the time they will go away on their own, but there are medications, and ointments or creams that can be used to relieve some symptoms like pain or itchiness.

If you’re experiencing life threatening symptoms like shock, or a severe allergic reaction, seek medical attention right away.

Calling 911 or your emergency provider is often the fastest way to get help for severe reactions.

Common Bug Bites & Stings

Some common bugs that can bite or sting you include:

  • Ticks
  • Bedbugs
  • Mosquitos
  • Head lice
  • Horseflies
  • Spiders
  • Bees
  • Wasps
  • Fire ants

When to See a Medical Doctor

Bites and stings from insects are part of life, and usually harmless.

If symptoms are particularly annoying or irritating, a doctor can recommend and prescribe creams, medications, or other treatment methods to help relieve mild symptoms of bites or stings.

If experiencing an allergic reaction, or severe symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 or your local emergency provider for assistance.