If you are on the receiving end of a bite or sting, it’s never pleasant. Stings and bites usually cause a minor injury. There are times, however, when a bite or a sting requires you to 911 or immediate medical attention. These circumstances include a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis.
Dignity Health St. John’s emergency care doctors can provide treatment if you or a family member has an allergic reaction to mosquito bites, or if you are bitten by a wild animal. Let our doctors, who are focused on quality care, treat your allergic reactions to bug bites and stings.
Emergency Care for Bites & Stings at Dignity Health St. John's
There are a number of ways for you to get bitten by an animal or stung when an insect injects, through its stinger, venom into your skin. Some common kinds of stings and bites include:
- Wasp and bee stings
- Ant bites and stings
- Spider bites
- Animal bites
- Snake bites
- Scorpion stings
Seek medical attention if any of the following apply:
- The wound becomes warm, red, swollen, or oozing (signs of infection).
- You realize you are not not up-to-date on tetanus shots.
- The bite came from a wild animal, a pet not up to date on immunizations, an animal that you don’t know, or an animal that is acting strangely.
- Your skin is torn, there is substantial bleeding, or the bite is a deep puncture.
- You have been bitten on the head, neck, face, foot, hand, or joint.
- Your body’s reaction is severe.
Call 911 or seek emergency medical care immediately if you experience the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Hives and itching along with skin that is very pale or flushed
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Swelling, tingling, or tightness of your face, eyes, throat, lips, or tongue
- Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
- Rapid, weak pulse
- Fainting or dizziness
How to Treat Bites & Strings
Treatment of bug bites and stings depends on whether you have an allergy. If you are allergic and carry an epinephrine autoinjector, you should use it and call 911. Your Dignity Health St. John's doctor can advise you to seek medical attention even if you believe your symptoms are improving.
If you do not have an allergy, you can take care of most minor stings and bites by following these steps:
- Pull out the stinger if it is still lodged in your skin.
- Use soap and water to wash out the bite or sting.
- Apply a cold compress to the site.
- Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream, or take antihistamines by mouth to ease symptoms.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, if needed.
If your condition requires a visit to the ER, Find a Doctor online after your visit to make an appointment and pinpoint your allergies.