First aid care for insect bites and stings

In most cases of insect bites and stings, they settle in a few hours or 2-3 days. Generally, they can be managed without requiring a trip to the doctor.

How to care for insect bites and stings

When it comes to insect bites and stings, it is expected to have redness, swelling and any burning or stinging sensation in the site of the sting or bite.

Once an individual has been bit or stung, the following measures must be carried out:

  • Get rid of the stinger if still attached to the skin
  • Cleanse the bite or sting site using water and soap
  • Apply something cold to the skin such as an ice pack or moist cloth or towel
  • Elevate the affected extremity with the bite or sting site

    Apply something cold to the skin such as an ice pack or moist cloth or towel.

In case the bite or sting is on the face, immediate care might be needed due to the potential for the reaction to be severe.

You can lower the risk for infection by applying an antiseptic on the bite or sting and instruct the individual to avoid scratching or breaking open any blisters.

When to consult a doctor

A doctor should be seen if the following are present:

  • Symptoms do not seem to improve after 2-3 days
  • Worried about the sting or bite
  • Indications of infection are present such as swollen glands, drainage of pus or flu-like symptoms
  • Indications of an allergic reaction such as redness or swelling that spreads

Preventive measures

Luckily, there are various ways to prevent insect bites and stings such as:

  • Apply an insect repellant especially those that contain 50% DEET which is the most effective
  • Any exposed skin should be covered particularly at sunrise and sunset when the insects are quite active
  • Make sure that food or beverages are properly sealed or covered since the smell and colors attracts them
  • Avoid disturbing any insect nests

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on insect bites and stings is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage bites and stings by taking a standard first aid course with Winnipeg First Aid.


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