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How to Deal with Minor Insect Bites & Stings

It's amazing how such little creatures can cause such serious discomfort. Follow these simple steps to properly tend to an insect sting or bite.


  • : Call 911 if a victim appears to be suffering from a serious reaction to an insect bite or sting, which can include symptoms like light-headedness, disorientation, a skin rash, nausea, vomiting, disrupted breathing, swelling in the lips or throat, rapid heartbeat, or cramps.
  • Step 1: Relocate Relocate to an area free from insects (so you won't get bitten or stung again!).
  • Step 2: Scratch stinger off If there is a stinger, scratch or flick it off by using the flat edge of something like a credit card or the back of a knife blade.
  • TIP: Flick, but never pull out a stinger—that can release more poison.
  • Step 3: Wash area Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Step 4: Apply ice pack Apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and discomfort. Be careful to ice in increments no longer than 20 minutes and allow at least 45 minutes between applications.
  • TIP: Never apply an ice pack directly to the skin—wrap the pack in something like a damp cloth or towel to prevent frostbite.
  • Step 5: Apply cream & lotion Ease the symptoms by applying hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion according to product directions, or apply a paste made from 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water multiple times a day.
  • : See doctor If you experience diarrhea, mild nausea, or cramps, or if the site swells more than 2 inches in diameter, you may be having an allergic reaction—see a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Step 6: Take antihistamine Take an antihistamine containing diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine maleate according to product directions.
  • FACT: The itch from a mosquito bite comes from the saliva the insect injects under your skin when it bites.

You Will Need

  • Soap
  • Water
  • An ice pack
  • A damp cloth or towel
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • calamine lotion
  • or baking soda
  • An antihistamine
  • An object with a flat edge
  • such as a credit card or knife (optional)

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