Bug bites are dangerous because of the possibility of anaphylaxis.
Spider bites and scorpion stings can be more worrisome. The reality, however, is that most bites are from unidentified bugs.
- Stay Safe! Follow universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if you have it. If a stinger is present, follow the directions for treating bee stings.
- Apply an ice pack to the site of the sting. Alternate on and off to prevent tissue damage - usually 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off.
- If the victim exhibits any of the following, consider the possibility of anaphylaxis:
- swelling (other than the site of the sting)
- shortness of breath
- heart palpitations
- chest pain
- hives or redness
- If the victim has any involuntary muscle movements, call 911 immediately.
- Try to identify the bug. If the bug is dead, scoop it up and take it with you to the emergency department. Be careful, even dead bugs have venom.
- For pain relief, try sting swabs (compare prices). Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are also good for pain.
- Bark scorpion stings can cause numbness and tingling in the tissue around the bite. If the site is tingling or burning, see a doctor.
- Spiders like damp, dark areas the best. Be aware around wood piles, attics, and cellars.
- The two common North American poisonous spiders are the black widow and the brown recluse.
- Scorpions are undeniably ugly but rarely fatal pests. Arizona, New Mexico, some of Nevada and Utah, and the California side of the Colorado River are known for the bark scorpion, a particularly nasty critter.
- Scorpions come out at night, so take care to check bedding before snuggling in. Scorpions are also notorious stowaways; inspect baggage before and after heading home.
- There is an antitoxin available for bark scorpions, but it is only available in Arizona and it is not FDA-approved.