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Insect Bites and Stings

Bites and stings from insects or bugs come with unique health risks. The potential for injury, infection, disease and allergic reactions can make even the smallest bite or sting a concern.

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What is the difference between a bug bites and stings?

A bite occurs when an insect uses its mouth to break your skin, typically so it can feed. This is the case with insects like mosquitos, fleas or bedbugs.

A sting is when an insect uses another part of its body, like a barbed stinger, to pierce your skin and inject venom — usually as a defense. This is most common with bees, wasps and hornets.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction from an insect bite or sting?

Mild allergy symptoms can include:

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Rashes

  • Hives

Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) symptoms can include:

  • Swollen face, eyes, tongue or throat

  • Difficulty breathing or talking

  • Itching, rash or hives

  • Pale or flushed skin

  • Wheezing or coughing

  • Tiredness

  • Confusion

  • Abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea

  • Lightheadedness or faintness

  • Unconsciousness

In the case of a severe allergic reaction, use an EpiPen if you have one and call 911.

What should you do for a bug bite or sting?

If you get an insect bite or sting, follow these steps:

  • Move to safety if there is a high risk of being stung or bitten again.

  • Check for signs of allergies. If an anaphylactic reaction occurs, use an EpiPen (if available) and call 911.

  • If there is a stinger, remove it by scraping across the skin. Do not squeeze the stinger, as this may inject more of the insect’s venom into your body.

  • If a tick is biting you, carefully use tweezers or a tick removal key to pull the tick out of your skin. With tweezers, grasp the tick’s head as closely to the skin as you can. Pull steadily upward, without jerking or twisting the tick. The goal is to pull the tick off without breaking its mouthparts, which could get stuck in your skin and increase the risk of infection.

  • Clean your insect bite or sting with soap and water.

  • Monitor yourself for signs of illness or allergies.

Which diseases are transmitted by insects/bugs?

Mosquitos can carry many diseases, including malaria, dengue, Zika and West Nile Virus. Ticks can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you feel sick and have recently been bitten by an insect, especially a tick.

The CDC has news and information about these diseases and other vector-borne illnesses.

When is a bite or sting cause for concern?

You should seek medical help for any insect bite or sting if:

  • You have a severe allergic reaction

  • You notice signs of infection

Additionally, you should seek medical help for a mosquito bite if:

You should seek medical help for a tick bite if:

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When should you visit urgent care for insect bite and sting treatment?

If you are experiencing non-life-threatening pain or complications due to an insect bite or sting, check in online or walk in to a WellNow location nearest you.

This medical information has been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Robert Biernbaum, Chief Medical Officer for WellNow Urgent Care.

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Injuries We Treat

WellNow Urgent Care can help when you or a family member is hurt. Our dedicated medical team will provide prompt, comprehensive and compassionate care to help you get better, faster.

This list contains are most frequently treated injuries. If you are experiencing pain from an injury not listed or are unsure of the source of your discomfort, visit a WellNow Urgent Care clinic near you or start a virtual care session.

A - E

Abrasions (Scrapes)
Abscesses and Cysts
Animal Bites
Back Pain
Cuts and Lacerations
Eye Complaints