Insect bite results in a small, red and itchy swelling that lasts a few hours or days. The bites are seldom dangerous, but it may cause severe allergic reaction or transmit infection that is severe. Also, the bites of a few spiders, ticks, and insects are poisonous or associated with specific diseases.

Usually the signs and symptoms of insect bites disappear in a few days. If you are concerned about the insect bite, consult your doctor.

Ticks. Tick bites are not life-threatening but may cause diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, tularemia, relapsing fever, and a potentially fatal ailment called ehrlichiosis.

Spiders. Bites are seldom fatal; infants, the elderly, and people with allergies are at greatest risk. Most dangerous is the black widow spider.

Scorpions. Scorpion stings cause a sharp, burning pain, followed by numbness. Scorpion venom rarely produces shock, or even a life-threatening syndrome of rapid breathing, difficulty speaking, and muscle spasm.

Fire ants. These ants produce small, fluid-filled bites that may form an ulcer. The ants bite into the skin and then sting repeatedly in an arc around the bite. The venom is capable of causing severe reactions and even, in some cases, anaphylaxis and death.

Most insect bites produce only minor irritation, with symptoms such as:

  • Swelling at the site of the bite
  • Pain
  • redness
  • Itching
  • burning
  • Local numbness
  • tingling

Bites of poisonous spiders and scorpions may produce these symptoms:

  • Intense pain at the site of the wound
  • Stiffness or joint pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Fever or chills
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • A spreading, ulcerated wound or tissue death
  • Dizziness, impaired speech or convulsions

An insect or spider bite can rarely cause a potentially fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock. Symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Face or mouth swelling
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing


The doctor can diagnose insect bite by just looking at the site and by asking a few questions to help him determine its cause. He may perform several tests to know the effect of the bite on the patient. To identify if the insect have transmitted a more severe disease, blood tests are required.



For insect bites and spider bites that aren’t serious, the goal of treatment is simply to relieve discomfort. If the bite or sting causes a severe reaction, seek immediate medical help. Always be sure your tetanus immunization is current.

  • General insect bites: The discomfort of many insect bites can be soothed by an ice cube, a cold washcloth, calamine lotion, a paste of baking soda, or an over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointment. For mosquito or other minor bites, apply calamine lotion.
  • Black widow spider: If you think you’ve been bitten by a black widow spider, seek medical help.. Antivenom may be used in some cases.
  • Brown recluse spider: A spreading wound from a brown recluse spider bite should be surgically cleaned and repaired, although surgery isn’t always required. Apply cold packs but don’t apply ice.
  • Ticks: If you find a tick embedded in the skin, remove it carefully without crushing it. Grip it near the head with tweezers or gloved fingers and pull gently and steadily. Call your doctor and find out if you need to take a medicine to prevent Lyme Disease.
  • Scorpion sting: For a scorpion sting, call your doctor. Seek immediate medical help if symptoms are severe.
  • Serious allergic reaction to stings: Treatment should be done in the emergency department and begins with epinephrine, diphenhydramine, and steroids. Oral antibiotics may also be given.

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