Bites and stings can happen if an animal or an insect feels threatened. Animals can cause puncture wounds with their teeth. Insects inject venom into your skin with their stingers. Animals and insects that commonly bite or sting include:
Usually, bites and stings cause only minor injury. However, seeking medical help is recommended for the following situations:
- The bite came from a wild animal, an animal unknown to you, an animal behaving strangely, or a pet not up-to-date on immunization.
- The bite results in a deep puncture, torn skin, or significant amount of bleeding.
- The bite occurs on the face, head, neck, hand, foot, or joint.
- Reaction to a sting is severe.
- There are signs of infection.
- The person is not up-to-date on tetanus shots.
Dignity Health Central California can help you manage bites and stings with personal care. See your doctor or visit your nearest emergency room if you need help right away for a bite or sting in Central California. Use our InQuicker tool to choose your estimated hospital arrival time, and wait at home until your time to be seen.
Identifying Symptoms of Bites & Stings
Bites can create wounds ranging from minor to severe. A bite wound can become infected if it breaks the skin. Redness and swelling are the typical signs of infection.
Stings can sometimes feel hot to the touch, and cause pain, itching, redness, and swelling. A severe, life-threatening allergic reaction — anaphylaxis — can also result from an insect sting. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Tingling, tightness, or swelling of eyes, face, throat, tongue, or lips
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Dizziness or fainting
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Hives, itching, and flushed or very pale skin
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Call 911 or seek emergency medical care if you experience any of these symptoms.
Dignity Health Central California Tips for Treating Bites & Stings
Your treatment for bites and stings depends on your sensitivity and allergies. If you know that you are allergic to stings, ask your doctor to prescribe an epinephrine autoinjector. Epinephrine can treat the severe symptoms of anaphylaxis in an emergency. If you experience a sting, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention even if your symptoms are mild.
If you are not allergic to stings, you can manage most bites and stings at home by following these steps:
- If the stinger is still embedded in your skin, remove it with care.
- Wash the bite or sting with soap and water.
- Apply a cold compress.
- Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion, or take antihistamines by mouth to ease symptoms.
- If necessary, use over-the-counter pain relievers.
If you not sure if you are allergic to insect stings, Find a Doctor at Dignity Health Central California who can diagnose your allergies.
Dignity Health Central California is here to assist you with care for bites and stings in Bakersfield, Merced, San Andreas, and Stockton, CA.