Insect Bites and Stings

Insect bites can cause an allergic reaction. More people have allergic reactions to stinging insects than to biting insects.

Signs and Symptoms

What Causes It?

Stinging insects include bumblebees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and fire and harvester ants. Biting insects include conenose bugs, mosquitoes, horseflies, deerflies, spiders, bedbugs, and black flies.

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

Your health care provider will determine if you are having, or are at risk of having a serious allergic reaction. If you are having an allergic reaction, your provider will give you drugs to stop it. When you feel better, you may have a series of shots to prevent a strong reaction if you are bitten again.

Treatment Options

Large local reactions usually go away in three to seven days with no treatment. For symptom relief, use the following.

Drug Therapies

Complementary and Alternative Therapie

s Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention.

High doses of flavonoids and vitamins may reduce severity and duration of reaction.



Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. Homeopathy
There have been few studies examining the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. A professional homeopath, however, may recommend one or more of the following treatments for insect bites and stings based on his or her knowledge and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type. In homeopathic terms, a person's constitution is his or her physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual. Acupuncture
May be helpful in reducing inflammation.

Following Up

Sometimes serious reactions happen again soon after the first reaction stops. Your provider may want to observe you for 8 to 12 hours.

Special Considerations


Amoxicillin. NMIHI. Accessed at on May 19, 2018.

Carr AC, Frei B. Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C based on antioxidant and health effects in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(6):1086-1107.

Cummings S, Ullman D. Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam; 1997: 301-302.

First aid. MFMER. Accessed at on May 19, 2018.

Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby-Year Book; 1996.

Insect Bites and Stings. MedlinePlus. Accessed at on May 19, 2018.

Insect and spider bites and how to deal with them. MedicalNews. Accessed at on May 19, 2018.

JAMA Patient Page. How much vitamin C do you need? JAMA. 1999;281(15):1460.

Johnston CS. Recommendations for vitamin C intake. JAMA. 1999;282(22):2118-2119.

Kruzel T. The Homeopathic Emergency Guide. Berkeley, Calif: North Atlantic Books; 1992:198-200.

Jonas WB, Jacobs J. Healing with Homeopathy: The Doctors' Guide. New York, NY: Warner Books; 1996: 146.

Levine M, Rumsey SC, Daruwala R, Park JB, Wang Y. Criteria and recommendations for vitamin C intake. JAMA. 1999;281(15):1415-1453.

Levofloxacin. NMIHI. Accessed at on May 19, 2018.

Middleton E, ed. Allergy: Principles and Practice. 5th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby-Year Book; 1998.

Minocycline. NMIHI. Accessed at on May 19, 2018.

Rakel RE, ed. Conn's Current Therapy. 50th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders Co; 1998.

Ullman D. Homeopathic Medicine for Children and Infants. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam; 1992: 52.