When To Call A Doctor About A Sting or Bite

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on May 18, 2021

Most insect bites cause only minor irritation, with symptoms like swelling at the site of the bite or itching or burning. You might also feel numbness or tingling.

If you’ve been bitten by a poisonous spider, you may notice any of the following:

Insect stings and bites can cause severe allergic reactions. Doctors call this “anaphylaxis.” Rarely, a spider bite can cause an allergic reaction doctors call “anaphylactic shock.” It can be fatal.

Call 911 if you have any of these symptoms:

  • 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

If you experience any of these things and have epinephrine on hand, don’t hesitate to use it --even if you’re not sure your symptoms are caused by allergies. Using an auto-injector pen as a precaution won’t harm you.

WebMD Medical Reference



University of Arkansas Anthropod Museum.


California Poison Control and the University of California.

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