Pesky insect bites and stings are common - they usually only cause minor irritation and clear up in a day.
In the UK, you might be bitten by midges, mosquitoes, fleas, bedbugs, spiders, mites or ticks or stung by bees, wasps and hornets.
Some stings can be painful or trigger an allergic reaction you didn’t know you would have, but most often there is nothing to worry about and you can treat them at home.
A small hole, or the sting itself, may be visible if you get bitten or stung. The area may become red, swollen and itchy. In a sting, this can be painful, but it’s harmless in most cases.
Itching and swelling caused by insect bites or stings mostly clears up within a day.
If redness and swelling persists beyond 24 hours and is getting worse, the bite may be infected and you should arrange to see your GP.
Common symptoms of a bite or sting include:
If you’ve been stung by a bee, the sting and venom sac may have been left in your skin. You can remove it by
scraping it out with your fingernails or something with a hard edge, such as a bank card.
When removing a bee sting, don’t pinch it out with your fingers or tweezers as this could spread the venom.
If you’ve been unable to remove all of the tick or suspect an infection, a pharmacist or GP can take a look at it and provide you with any medication you might need.
Ask your local pharmacist for creams, sprays or antihistamine tablets to help treat a bite or sting.
See your GP if redness and itching gets worse or doesn’t clear up after a few days, or if there is a lot of swelling and blistering or pus, which could indicate an infection.
Call 111 for advice if you experience any of these symptoms after a bite or sting:
If you're concerned about yourself, a relative or friend, call NHS 111 for medical advice, this free service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The advisors taking 111 calls are in the same room as those answering 999 calls, so if urgent attention is needed, they can arrange it immediately for you.
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This website was created in 2015 by West Hampshire CCG in order to support local people to manage minor illness and injury.