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Animal Bites and Insect Stings

How do I treat animal bites and scratches?

If you or your child gets a bite, follow these steps to treat the wound:

  • Hold a towel or cotton on the area to stop the bleeding.
  • Clean the wound with soap and water.
  • Cover it with a clean bandage or gauze pad.

How do I treat bee, wasp, and other insect stings?

Here’s what to do:

  • If the insect has left behind a stinger, remove it from the skin so less of the venom gets into your body. Don’t squeeze the stinger. You might release more of the venom into your skin.
  • Once the stinger is out or if there is no stinger, wash the area around the sting with soap and water.
  • Hold an ice pack or cool washcloth to the sting to stop it from swelling.
  • Spread calamine lotion or baking soda mixed with water to relieve pain.
  • To prevent itching, use a spray or cream containing hydrocortisone or antihistamine.

How do I treat a mosquito bite?

Here’s what to do:

  • Apply firm pressure to the bite for 10 seconds to help stop the itch.
  • Use a baking soda paste or hydrocortisone cream 4 times a day to relieve itching. Don’t have either on hand?
  • Holding ice or a wet washcloth on the bite will also help.
  • Take an antihistamine if the bite is very itchy.

How do I treat a spider bite?

For most of the harmless types of spiders, you’ll find at home, treatment is pretty simple:

  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Hold an ice pack or cool washcloth to the bite to relieve pain and bring down swelling.

When should I see a doctor for an animal bite?

For any animal bite, you may need an antibiotic to prevent infection. So, it’s always a good idea to call your doctor, especially if you have medical conditions that weaken your immune system:

  • The bite was caused by an unknown animal, or by any wild animal like a raccoon, skunk, or bat. You may need tetanus or rabies vaccine.
  • The bite is large, or it doesn’t stop bleeding after you’ve held pressure on it for 15 minutes. It may need to be closed with stitches.
  • You think the bite may have damaged a bone, tendons, or nerves because you can’t bend or straighten the body part or you’ve lost feeling in it.
  • The wound is red, swollen, or oozing fluid.

What are the signs that the child is allergic to the insect?

It’s normal for the skin around the insect sting to swell up and get red. But go to the emergency room if you see any of these signs of an allergic reaction:

  • Dizziness
  • Hives — red, itchy bumps on the skin
  • Stomach cramps, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Trouble breathing, wheezing

Anyone who has allergies to bees, wasps, or other stinging insects should keep an epinephrine auto-injector at home, work, and school in case of a sting.

How do I know if a spider is poisonous?

Spiders might be creepy and crawly, but most of them aren’t poisonous. The poisonous spiders to watch out for are the brown recluse and black widow. Here’s how to spot them:

  • Brown recluse spiders are about 1/2-inch long. They’re brown and have a mark in the shape of a violin on their back.
  • Black widow spiders are black with a red hourglass-shaped mark on their stomach.

What should I do for a poisonous spider bite?

If you think you were bitten by a poisonous spider like a brown recluse or black widow, go to the doctor. Look for these signs:

  • A red or purple color around the bite
  • Pain in the bite area
  • Swelling around the bite
  • Muscle pain and cramps
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rash
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Trouble breathing