Insect Bites

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Toxicity: Most insect bites have minimal toxicity.

Expected symptoms:  Effects vary from having no symptoms to stinging, burning, swelling, itching, redness and possible blistering at the bite site.

What to do: Wash insect bite thoroughly with soap and water to keep the puncture site clean.  Do not apply ice.

NOTE: If you have been bitten by a brown recluse or black widow spider or stung by a bee, wasp, hornet, or yellow jacket, call the Missouri Poison Center now for help on how to handle this bite or sting.

Calls to the poison center regarding insect bites are a common occurrence and rarely result in harmful symptoms.  Most often we are called about red bumps that vary in size and appearance.  Our first concern is to avoid an infection.  Any time there is a break in the skin, even the small puncture that an insect leaves, there is a chance for an infection to occur.

Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water to make sure it is clean.  Then apply a thin layer of an antibiotic ointment to act as a barrier to infection.  Do not apply ice to the site.  If there is itching, apply a topical hydrocortisone 1% cream.  Remember that most infections are caused by actions after the bite, such as scratching and picking at the bite.

If the redness and swelling associated with a bite is increasing in size, if there is drainage or pus from the bite and you start to run a fever, OR if you think you have been bitten by a brown recluse or black widow spider, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions, too.

**Note: Don’t forget, every case is different. To make sure you are getting the best information for your individual situation, click below to call or chat. It is fast, free, and confidential.