What may happen after an insect sting or bite?
A localised allergic skin reaction
Occasionally, a skin infection develops following a bite, particularly if you scratch a lot, which can damage the skin and allow bacteria (germs) to get in. Infection causes redness and tenderness around the bite. Over a period of several days, this may spread and, sometimes, can become serious.
Do I need antibiotics?
The vast majority of insect Bites or stings do not require antibiotics. The redness, swelling and itching are part of the normal response to a bite or sting.
Antibiotics are only required if you:
Feel unwell and have a high temperature
The Fluid filled centre looks like thick yellow custard, rather than the normal reaction of cider coloured clear fluid
There is a red line tracking from the main area of swelling and redness.
What is the treatment for an insect sting or bite?
If stung by a bee and the stinger is still in place – scrape it out.
Scrape out a bee sting left in the skin as quickly as possible. Use the edge of a knife, the edge of a credit card, a fingernail, or anything similar.
The quicker you remove the sting the better, so use anything suitable to scrape out the sting quickly.
Do not try to grab the sting to pluck it out, as this may squeeze more venom into the skin. Scraping it out is better.
Note: Wasps, hornets or yellow jackets do not leave a stinger in the skin when they sting.
Take an antihistamine tablet as soon as possible. You can buy these at pharmacies.
Use a cold compress to ease pain and to help reduce swelling. For example, use a cold flannel or an ice pack.
Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can help to ease the pain.
A steroid cream may be useful – for example, hydrocortisone.
Continue with antihistamines until the swelling eases. This may be for a few days. See a doctor if the swelling is severe.
Visit the Minor Injuries Unit webpage for more information about this service.