Bug bites and insect stings are generally minor nuisances that cause temporary irritation. They can be red, swollen and itchy, and for the most part, they disappear on their own within a few days. However, in some cases, ointment or daily care is necessary to decrease the bite or sting. In rare cases, they can require medical treatment. 

But how do you care for a bug bite or sting? And most importantly, how do you know when you need medical assistance to heal? 

First Aid for Bug Stings and Insect Bites

Most insect bites will start red, swollen and itchy before steadily healing over time. This inflammatory response means your body is repairing itself from the irritation. To help your body and relieve yourself of some of the itchiness, you should wash the bug bite with soap and water every day. If you itch too much, you can cause additional irritation, and in some cases, bacteria can infect the wound. 

The same is true if you have a bee sting, though you should  remove the stinger first. Then, scrape at it with a credit card or another sturdy, plastic object to remove the stinger. You should also avoid itching as much as possible, breaking the skin, causing an infection. If you are struggling with itching, an ice pack, an anti-itch cream, or an anti-inflammatory cream can help.   

What if Your Bug Bite is Infected?

f you cannot resist and do itch your insect sting, there will be  signs that let you know it’s infected. Instead of itchy skin, the welt will become painful. You may also develop a fever, become nauseous or start shivering. Your lymph nodes will also become inflamed, with red lines  spreading from the bug bite or sting.   

If you do identify that your bug bite or insect sting is not getting better and maybe developing into an infection, it’s essential to know that there are treatment options. A mild infection will require washing every day with soap and water, like a regular bug bite. You should then apply an over-the-counter antibiotic cream to  take care of the bite or sting. However, if it gets worse or you develop flu-like symptoms, visit your doctor right away. 

When Does an Insect Bite Require Medical Treatment? 

While most bites and stings will heal with a bit of first aid care, there are moments when it’s ineffective. For instance, spider bites from a brown recluse or black widow spider can be deadly and require treatment from a medical professional.  

In addition, some people may have a severe reaction to a bug bite or sting called  anaphylaxis. This reaction causes itching and swelling all over the body and can potentially close the lung’s airway. If you feel itchiness all over your body or have trouble breathing after a bite, seek emergency help right away.   

If you think you are experiencing anaphylaxis, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help you find the best treatment you need. To find a location near you, visit PRESNow247.org/locations. 

If you feel your condition is a true emergency, call 911.  

Unlike most ERs or urgent care centers in the area, PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care in Albuquerque, patients are only billed for the level of services they need. The ER and urgent care are open 24 hours a day, every day. No appointment is required for in-person visits.

PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care has four convenient locations:

  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Paseo/San Pedro is located at 6400 Paseo Del Norte Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113, and may be reached at 505-596-2100.
  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Coors/Western Trail is located at 4515 Coors Blvd. NW Albuquerque, NM 87120, and may be reached at 505-596-2200.
  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Isleta/Rio Bravo is located at 3436 Isleta Blvd SW, Albuquerque, NM 87105, and may be reached at 505-596-2300.
  • PRESNow 24/7 Urgent and Emergency Care Menaul/Pennsylvania is located at 7400 Menaul Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110, and may be reached at 505-596-2400.