Insect Bites and Stings and Spider Bites - Topic Overview
Insect and spider bites often cause minor
swelling, redness, pain, and itching. These mild reactions are common and may
last from a few hours to a few days. Home treatment is often all that is needed
to relieve the symptoms of a mild reaction to
common stinging or biting insects and spiders.
Some people have more severe reactions to bites or stings. Babies and
children may be more affected by bites or stings than adults.
Examples of problems that are more serious include:
- A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Severe allergic reactions are not common
but can be life-threatening and require emergency care. Signs or symptoms may
- Shock, which
may occur if the circulatory system cannot get enough blood to the vital
- Coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing, or feeling of
fullness in the mouth or throat.
- Swelling of the lips, tongue,
ears, eyelids, palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and mucous membranes
- Lightheadedness and
- Nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
- Raised, red, itchy bumps called hives and reddening of the skin. These
symptoms often occur with other symptoms of a severe reaction.
toxic reaction to a single sting or bite. Spiders or
insects that may cause this include:
toxic reaction to multiple stings or bites from a bee,
wasp, or fire ant.
bee leaves its stinger behind and then dies after
stinging. Africanized honeybees, the so-called
killer bees, are more aggressive than common honeybees
and often attack together in great numbers.
- Wasps, including hornets and yellow jackets, can sting over and over.
fire ant attaches to a person by biting with its jaws.
Then, pivoting its head, it stings from its belly in a circular pattern at
large skin reaction at the site of the bite or
skin infection at the site of the bite or
- Serum sickness, a reaction to the
medicines (antiserum) used to treat a bite or sting. Serum sickness may cause
flu-like symptoms about 3 to 21 days after the use
- A virus infection. Infected mosquitoes can spread the
West Nile virus to people, causing an inflammation of
the brain (encephalitis). For more information, see the topic
West Nile Virus.
- A parasite infection. Infected mosquitoes can
malaria. For more information, see the topic
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you
should see a doctor.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
October 25, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this
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Insect Bites and Stings and Spider Bites Topics