Porter Regional Hospital: How to Know if a Bug Bite Is Serious

By: Porter Regional Hospital Last Updated: July 8, 2016

Porter-How-to-Know-if-a-Bug-Bite-is-SeriousIt's summertime, meaning cookouts, picnics, trips to the park and family vacations. All this extra time spent outdoors also means more exposure to bugs. From ants, ticks and spiders to bees and wasps, the potential to get bitten or stung by one of these outdoor pests also grows.

Most of the time, common over-the-counter medications can help relieve bug bite or sting symptoms. Acetaminophen can help with pain, and a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream can help relieve redness, itching or swelling. But sometimes, bug bites can require medical attention, especially if the bite causes an allergic reaction or becomes infected. Seek medical attention if any of these occur:

  • a large rash around the bite
  • pain or swelling that lasts longer than three days or extends beyond the original site of the bite or sting
  • rapidly changing symptoms

Severe allergic reactions to bug bites and stings can be life-threatening. If you notice any of these signs, call 911 immediately:

  • shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
  • bee or wasp sting in the mouth that causes severe swelling that could interfere with breathing
  • dizziness or fainting
  • facial swelling
  • nausea or vomiting

If you think you've been bitten by a black widow or brown recluse spider, or stung by a scorpion, head to the ER, as these can be life-threatening — especially for children and seniors — and may require immediate medical attention.

For a non-emergency bug bite or sting that requires medical attention, or if you are looking for a primary care doctor, visit PorterPhysicianGroup.com.

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