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First Aid & Emergencies

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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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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.

If you experience any sign of anaphylaxis and have epinephrine available, do not hesitate to use it, even if you are unsure that your symptoms are allergy related. Using an auto-injector pen as a precaution will not harm you.



WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on October 21, 2015

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