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eMed previously Babylon Health

Insect Bites and Stings

Edited by Dr Claudia Pastides, 3rd April 2019

Insect bites often cause mildly bothersome inflammation and itching, rarely needing more than a trip to the pharmacist for some advice. Sometimes insect bites however can lead to an allergic reaction or infection of the skin.


  • Spiders
  • Bedbugs
  • Bees, wasps and hornets
  • Ticks
  • Mosquitos
  • Horseflies
  • Fleas

Common Treatment

  • Most insect bites do not require any treatment and will get better within 2 or 3 days
  • Antihistamines can help relieve the itching and reduce swelling
  • Bites that are more swollen can take up to 7 days to resolve completely
  • Some bites become infected and in this case you might need antibiotics

When to speak to a doctor

Insect stings can often be initially managed by a pharmacist. If you remain concerned about a sting or it is getting worse, stings can often be initially managed via a digital consultation. If the GP decides you need a face to face appointment, they will discuss what steps you can take next.

To speak to one of our GPs, download the app and create an account today.

As mentioned earlier, is important to call 999 if you are:

  • Having difficulty breathing
  • Having a wheezy or tight chest
  • Getting swelling of your lips or face
  • Feeling generally unwell


Insect bites can be managed and prevented by:

  • Wearing long sleeves and long trousers outdoors
  • Using insect repellant
  • Wearing footwear outdoors

More information


The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.