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How can an insect sting lead to an emergency?

Dr. Elif E. Oker, MD
Medical Toxicology

An insect sting ("bite") can lead to an emergency if there is an associated infection or allergic reaction. 

Sometimes patients develop skin or wound infections as a result of the insect bite.  In other instances the infection occurs because the bite area has caused itching which has resulted in a break in the skin allowing bacteria to enter the wound. These infections can be treated with antibiotics.

Allergic reactions resulting from insect bites are also possible. These may be local or systemic. Local reactions are isolated to the area of the bite. Systemic reactions are the most concerning, occurring throughout the body.  

Anaphylaxis is an allergy emergency that requires immediate attention. Anaphalxis is a wide spread allergic reaction that causes difficulty breathing and low blood pressure. Without treatment anaphylaxis can result in death. 

Persons who are severely allergic to insect bites are often prescribed an Epi pen in the event that they are bitten.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.