How do I give first aid for an insect sting or bite?

For a minor sting, start by removing the stinger and then clean the area. Bites and stings should then be treated with a cold pack followed by a hydrocortisone cream and an antihistamine. If you have a more severe reaction, which includes symptoms such as a hard time breathing, a swelling in the lips or throat, lightheadedness, nausea, confusion, or an increased heartbeat, you should see a doctor immediately.

Most insect stings or bites are more of an annoyance than cause for true danger to the person who was bitten. The severity of the sting or bite is dependent upon several things, such as the type of insect, if the insect was a carrier of a particular disease and whether or not the person has an allergy to the insect. Most commonly, the bite just causes irritation, swelling and itching around the site. To treat this, it's sufficient to clean with soap and water and use ice packs and anti-itch lotions. If the person has a known allergy to the insect, the reaction can vary from a full-body rash to a deadly reaction called anaphylaxis. If someone has a known anaphylactic reaction, she should carry a medicine called epinephrine and seek emergency medical attention immediately. If there is concern that the insect was a carrier of disease, you should consult your doctor for further evaluation.

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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.