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Understanding Insect and Spider Bites -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Insect and Spider Bites?

Most insect bites produce only minor irritation, with symptoms such as:

  • Swelling at the site of the bite
  • Itching or burning
  • Local numbness or tingling

Bites of poisonous spiders and scorpions may produce these symptoms:

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  • Intense pain at the site of the wound
  • Stiffness or joint pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Fever or chills
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • A spreading, ulcerated wound or tissue death
  • Dizziness, impaired speech or convulsions

An insect or spider bite can rarely cause a potentially fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock. Symptoms can include:

  • Rapid swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or around the eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing or hoarseness
  • Severe itching, cramping, or numbness
  • Dizziness
  • A reddish rash or hives
  • Stomach cramps
  • Loss of consciousness


Call 911 About an Insect or Spider Bite If:

  • You think you have been bitten by a poisonous spider or scorpion.
  • You experience any of the symptoms of anaphylactic shock described above. This is a severe, possibly life-threatening condition. 

Call 911 or your emergency number immediately.



WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 21, 2014

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