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Home :: Insect Bites & Stings

Insect Bites & Stings

Insect bites and stings can be simply divided into 2 groups: venomous and non-venomous. A sting is usually from an attack by a venomous insect such as a bee or wasp, which uses this as a defence mechanism by injecting toxic and painful venom through its stinger. Whereas non-venomous insect bites pierce the skin to feed on your blood. This usually results in intense itching.


Bites or stings are most likely in areas with heavy insect infestations, and during outdoor activity in the warm weather of spring and summer.

Signs and symptoms

The skin becomes red, swollen, itchy and can be painful. These are the most common symptoms. Sometimes bites cause an allergic reaction. Bites can become infected by scratching. Look out for a rash or swelling that gets worse instead of better. If this happens, see a doctor.


Medical Treatment

If you have had anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) following an insect bite, ask your doctor for an anaphylaxis kit to treat any future recurrences.


  • For minor discomfort, you may use:

Non-prescription oral antihistamines to decrease itching.

Non-prescription topical corticosteroid preparations to reduce inflammation and decrease itching. Use according to label directions. For face and groin, use only low-potency steroid products without fluorine.

  • For serious symptoms, your doctor may prescribe:

Stronger topical or oral corticosteroids if the reaction is severe.

Epinephrine or corticosteroids (orally or by injection) to prevent or diminish anaphylaxis symptoms.

Home Treatment

  • If anaphylaxis occurs, give CPR if the victim is not breathing and has no heartbeat. Ask someone to get emergency medical help.
  • For less severe cases, apply compresses to the bite or sting to relieve itching and hasten healing. Warm-water compresses are usually more soothing for pain or inflammation. Cool-water compresses feel better for itching.
  • Recent evidence indicates that vitamins in the B-group may be a deterrent to mosquito and other insect bites. Try 50mg thiamine orally
    once a day (unless your doctor advises otherwise) if you expect insects where you exercise or compete.
  • Use appropriate insect repellants and protective clothing.
  • Apply an insect repellent with diethyltoluamide (DEET) before exposure.
  • Treat animals for fleas and exterminate the house or kennel.
  • Avoid perfumes and floral-patterned or dark clothing.
  • De-flea cats, dogs and other household pets regularly

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Disclaimer: website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always take the advice of professional health care for specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site. Please note that medical information is constantly changing. Therefore some information may be out of date.