Insect Bite

ExitCare ImageMosquitoes, flies, fleas, bedbugs, and many other insects can bite. Insect bites are different from insect stings. A sting is when venom is injected into the skin. Some insect bites can transmit infectious diseases.


Insect bites usually turn red, swell, and itch for 2 to 4 days. They often go away on their own.


Your caregiver may prescribe antibiotic medicines if a bacterial infection develops in the bite.


  • Do not scratch the bite area.

  • Keep the bite area clean and dry. Wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water.

  • Put ice or cool compresses on the bite area.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 20 minutes, 4 times a day for the first 2 to 3 days, or as directed.

  • You may apply a baking soda paste, cortisone cream, or calamine lotion to the bite area as directed by your caregiver. This can help reduce itching and swelling.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines as directed by your caregiver.

  • If you are given antibiotics, take them as directed. Finish them even if you start to feel better.

You may need a tetanus shot if:

  • You cannot remember when you had your last tetanus shot.

  • You have never had a tetanus shot.

  • The injury broke your skin.

If you get a tetanus shot, your arm may swell, get red, and feel warm to the touch. This is common and not a problem. If you need a tetanus shot and you choose not to have one, there is a rare chance of getting tetanus. Sickness from tetanus can be serious.


  • You have increased pain, redness, or swelling in the bite area.

  • You see a red line on the skin coming from the bite.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have joint pain.

  • You have a headache or neck pain.

  • You have unusual weakness.

  • You have a rash.

  • You have chest pain or shortness of breath.

  • You have abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.

  • You feel unusually tired or sleepy.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.