Insect Bites

General Information

The circumstances under which insect bites can be dangerous are:

  • multiple bites from wasps or hornets
  • bites from any insect to which you have previously developed an extreme allergy

These circumstances require prompt medical treatment.

Most insect bites, however, may be painful and frightening but are not dangerous.

Important Points in Home Treatment:

  • Remove the stinger if possible.
  • Apply ice to the area or soak the part in ice water (half water, half ice). DO NOT USE SALT WATER.
  • For the next few days, be sure not to soak the bitten part in hot water. Take cool showers, cool baths, and do not exert yourself to the point of becoming hot. Heat will make the poison from the insect bite spread more widely and rapidly.
  • If you have not had a tetanus booster within the last 5-10 years, you will probably need one.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occurs:

  • Severe abdominal cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Skin rash away from site of insect bite, or rapid increase in size around the site
  • Shortness of breath

From the Riverside Hospital of Ottawa
June 1993