Bites and stings are common injuries that occur when an animal or insect feels threatened. These types of injuries can lead to allergic reactions or infections, depending on the type and severity of the specific bite or sting. Types of bites and stings include:
- Animal bites
- Ant bites and stings
- Bee stings and wasp stings
- Scorpion stings
- Snake bites
- Spider bites
In most cases, injuries from bites or stings are minor, and can be treated safely at home. However, you should seek medical attention if:
- The skin is torn, the bite is a deep puncture, or there is significant bleeding.
- The bite came from a wild animal, an animal unknown to you, a pet not up-to-date on immunizations, or an animal acting strangely.
- The person is not up-to-date on tetanus shots.
- The bite is on the hand, foot, joint, face, head, or neck.
- There are signs of infection.
- The reaction to a sting is severe.
You can find fast emergency treatment for a bite or sting in the Bay Area at Dignity Health hospitals. We triage each patient to get them through the waiting room and into treatment as soon as possible. Don’t want to wait at the hospital? Use our Online Waiting Room to select your approximate ER arrival time.
Symptoms of Bites & Stings
Common signs and symptoms of stings include:
- Feeling warm to the touch
Some people experience anaphylaxis — or a severe allergic reaction — after a sting. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical care or call 9-1-1 for the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Fainting or dizziness
- Itching, hives, and very pale or flushed skin
- Rapid, weak pulse
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Tightness, tingling, or swelling of your throat, eyes, tongue, face, or lips
- Vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea
Bites can range from deep puncture wounds to minor superficial wounds. There is a risk of infection with any bite that breaks the skin. Signs of possible infection include swelling, redness, warmth, or oozing from the injury.
Emergency Treatment for Bites & Stings at Dignity Health
Administer your epinephrine autoinjector and call 9-1-1 if you are allergic to stings. Our Dignity Health emergency care experts will provide the necessary treatment with personal care. Even if your symptoms improve after using your autoinjector, you should see a doctor.
If you aren’t having an allergic reaction, most minor bites and stings can be taken care at home. Gently remove the stinger, wash the injury with soap and water, and apply a cold compress. Symptoms can be eased with hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, antihistamines, and over the counter pain relievers.
Dignity Health offers emergency medical care for bites and stings in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.