Insect Bites and Stings

Edited by Dr Claudia Pastides, 3rd April 2019

Insect bites often cause mildly bothersome inflammation and itching, rarely needing more than a trip to the pharmacist for some advice. Sometimes insect bites however can lead to an allergic reaction or infection of the skin.


Causes

  • Spiders
  • Bedbugs
  • Bees, wasps and hornets
  • Ticks
  • Mosquitos
  • Horseflies
  • Fleas


Common Treatment

  • Most insect bites do not require any treatment and will get better within 2 or 3 days
  • Antihistamines can help relieve the itching and reduce swelling
  • Bites that are more swollen can take up to 7 days to resolve completely
  • Some bites become infected and in this case you might need antibiotics


When to speak to a doctor

Insect stings can often be initially managed by a pharmacist. If you remain concerned about a sting or it is getting worse, stings can often be initially managed via a digital consultation. If the GP decides you need a face to face appointment, they will discuss what steps you can take next.

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As mentioned earlier, is important to call 999 if you are:

  • Having difficulty breathing
  • Having a wheezy or tight chest
  • Getting swelling of your lips or face
  • Feeling generally unwell

Prevention

Insect bites can be managed and prevented by:

  • Wearing long sleeves and long trousers outdoors
  • Using insect repellant
  • Wearing footwear outdoors

More information

NHS - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/insect-bites-and-stings/