Insect bites and stings: What to do and when to call the doctor


Summer is in full swing, which makes being stung or bitten by something while hiking, playing in the garden or going for a walk with the dogs a highly likely event. 

Knowing what to do and when to seek medical advice is key in these situations, to prevent any unnecessary complications. This is what you need to know:

 First aid steps to treat a mild reaction from a bite or sting:

  • Move to a safe area where no more bites / stings can occur;
  • If any stingers have been left behind in the skin, gently remove them;
  • Gently wash the area with soap and water;
  • Apply a cold dampened cloth (you can fill it with ice to make it extra effective) and hold it on the area for 10 to 20 minutes to reduce swelling and pain;
  • If the bite or sting is on the arm or leg, raise it;
  • If the area is very itchy, take an antihistamine to reduce irritation, and if it is very painful, take a painkiller to alleviate some discomfort.
Putting a plaster on finger. Source: Unsplash

Seek medical attention if:

  • You develop trouble breathing;
  • You feel dizzy or faint;
  • You develop nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea;
  • Your pulse becomes weak or rapid;
  • You experience swelling to the face, lips or throat.


If the bite or sting causes a wound or damages the skin, it might be time to try Biomedical Wound Occlusive to help the skin heal and prevent scarring.