Insect bite swelling treatment: What To Do And When to see a doctor!

Insect Bite Swelling 

We will discuss here the insect bite swelling treatment, as one of the most common symptoms is swelling after an insect bite (Source). The tissue at the site of the bite and in the immediate vicinity swells to a greater or lesser extent (Source).

This is because the swelling is a reaction of the body to the insect venom: the toxins release so-called inflammation mediators in the body (Source). They make the small blood vessels (capillaries) more permeable for various molecules (Source), cells and fluids (Source).

In this way, the body’s immune system is enabled to repair the changes at the injection site (Source). The swelling can vary in severity depending on the insect that bites and how sensitive the body reacts to the bite (Source).

Read here all important information about insect bite swelling treatment, below.

ICD codes for this condition is T63

insect bite swelling treatment

Treatment For Insect Bites Swelling

Depending on how disruptive the symptoms are after an insect bite, no or only minor supportive measures need to be taken. An uncomplicated insect bite is treated symptomatically. The cooling of the puncture site, for example with ice or quark envelopes, is particularly suitable.

In addition, gels containing so-called antihistamines can be applied locally. These reduce the symptoms of inflammation by reducing or preventing the action of histamine, which is instrumental in the inflammatory response. As a rule, these measures are completely sufficient for the symptomatic treatment of an insect bite. In special cases and with pronounced inflammatory reactions, antihistamines in tablet form or medications containing cortisone can also be used. However, the doctor should decide on the use of these drugs.

Inflammation must still be treated medically if bacteria that have got into the skin after the insect bite are involved. It may then be necessary to give antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading and to control the inflammation. Antibiotics are also used to suspect long-term complications from tick-borne disease.

Antibiotics for an inflamed insect bite

Infection and inflammation of an insect bite can occur when bacteria infect the wound. To fight such an inflammation, antibiotics should be taken, which either fight the bacteria directly or prevent their multiplication. It should be borne in mind that only a small part of the insect bites is secondarily infected by bacteria.

Inflammation that can only be attributed to the body’s own reaction to the bite cannot be successfully treated by taking antibiotics. An allergic reaction can sometimes simulate an infection but requires a different therapy than a bacterial infection.

Very severe reddening, an open woundpainfever, and pus formation are indications that it is a bacterial inflammation. In this case, a doctor should be consulted who can confirm the suspicion and prescribe the correct antibiotic for the purpose. After starting antibiotic therapy, the symptoms of bacterial inflammation should become significantly better within 2 days.

If there is no improvement after 48 hours or the symptoms worsen, doctor should be consulted again. In order to prevent the inflammation from flaring up again and to prevent the emergence of resistant bacteria, the antibiotics should always be taken until the end of the intended therapy.

Ibuprofen for an inflamed insect bite

When ibuprofen is a medicament which exhibits both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. However, taking ibuprofen for an inflamed insect bite is usually not sensible

The inflammation of the skin after an insect bite is a local reaction of the body. Therefore, local therapies are usually sufficient to treat the symptoms of the insect bite. Since taking ibuprofen can have some side effects, and ibuprofen has no causative effect on the bite, systemic use should not be done. Only when there is severe pain due to the sting, taking ibuprofen can be useful.

In the event of these symptoms, a doctor should nevertheless be consulted as soon as possible to rule out an allergic reaction and infection or, if necessary, to initiate suitable therapy.

Ointments as an insect bite swelling treatment

The symptoms that are the main focus of an inflamed insect bite are mostly itching, swelling, and redness. They are caused by histamine, a messenger substance of the immune system, released by the body around the injection site. Therefore suitable ointments containing antihistamines included handling these complaints. Furthermore, cooling helps to alleviate the symptoms, since the injection site is often overheated due to the inflammation. 

Some ointments for insect bites, therefore, contain a combination of several ingredients that both acts against the increased release of histamine and have a cooling effect.

Home remedies as an insect bite swelling treatment

There are a number of different home remedies that promise relief from the symptoms of an insect bite. However, it should be noted that inflammation that occurs due to a bacterial infection always requires medical care and should be treated with antibiotics. The symptoms of inflammation, which occur as a body’s own reaction to the sting, can be alleviated with the help of some remedies.

To treat the swelling and overheating of the affected area of ​​the body, cooling with ice packs or the like is recommended. In many cases, cooling the sting can already significantly improve the symptoms.

sliced ​​onion is often recommended as a home remedy for insect bites. This can cool the area and therefore also promise relief. However, the onion is not expected to have a therapeutic effect. 

Herbal ingredients: Various plant extracts have anti-inflammatory, calming, and itch-relieving effects on insect bites. The cell balm ointment has proven particularly useful for insect bites. It contains selected extracts from resins and various medicinal plants, including yarrow, wormwood, myrrh, and camphor.

Heat: Heat denatures the proteins from the poison of bees or wasps or from the saliva of the mosquitoes, which trigger the itching. As soon as possible after the puncture, heat is injected into the puncture site. You can do this with a spoon, which is heated in hot water and pressed on the prick for ten to 30 seconds. Caution: Do not use too hot water! You should just be able to touch the spoon. An alternative is offered by electronic devices that can be obtained in pharmacies or drugstores.

Antihistamines and cortisone: ointments or gels with antihistamines (anti-allergic agents) relieve the itching. Cortisone also works against severe swelling and inflammation.

Wound treatment/disinfection: If a prick is scratched, the wound should be treated with a disinfectant spray or disinfectant ointment. Wound ointments can then accelerate healing.

This also applies to all oils and creams that are used as home remedies for the inflammatory reaction in insect bites.

  • Cool the puncture site with a cooling pad or ice cubes to relieve pain and itching.
  • Half an onion, placed on the spot, cools and has anti-inflammatory effects.
  • An envelope with cold vinegar cools and neutralizes the poison.
  • Special gels against insect bites are available in the pharmacy, which can also cool the bite and alleviate the swelling.
  • If no aids are at hand, saliva – best mixed with sugar – also helps against pain and swelling.
  • Immediately after the sting, suction punches from the pharmacy help to remove the poison from the sting point. On the other hand, it is better not to suck out the puncture site, since the poison can spread throughout the body.
  • Special puncture healers who use heat to fight the poison shortly after the stab are also said to be very effective. They are also available in pharmacies.

Homeopathy as an inflamed insect bite swelling treatment

I do not recommend homeopathic treatments. In addition to traditional therapeutic approaches to treating inflamed insect bites, homeopathic remedies are available as an alternative therapy. Different actions are recommended here, which should provide relief from an insect bite.

However, it should be noted that an allergic reaction to an insect bite, or if the bite affects the respiratory tract, is a medical emergency that requires conventional medical treatment.

This also applies if there is a bacterial infection of the sting. In this case, taking antibiotics helps to fight the bacteria. Some practicing doctors offer both conventional medicine and homeopathic therapies and individually assess whether homeopathic therapy is recommended in individual cases.

Going To The Doctor

Even if most insect bites heal on their own without medical therapy, in some cases it may be necessary and useful to see a doctor for clarification and therapy recommendations. This is especially the case if the insect bite causes an allergic reaction. Even if the sting affects the airways, a doctor should be consulted. 

Inflammation, which is accompanied by severe pain and/or fever and/or extensive reddening or pus formation, speaks for a bacterial infection that should be treated with antibiotics. A doctor can confirm the diagnosis and recommend the appropriate drug. If after 2 days you still experience symptoms even after the insect bite swelling treatment, you should consult a doctor.

In case of allergic shock, call an emergency doctor immediately

Many insect bites or stings, such as wasp stings are dangerous for allergy sufferers: Symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, vomiting or fainting indicate a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal if left untreated. In this case, the emergency doctor must be called immediately. He is also responsible for stings in the mouth and throat, as these can cause the airways to swell. People who know they are allergic should always have an emergency kit with them.

Conclusions And Summary

Insect bites swelling as a typical symptom

The swelling is caused by water escaping from the capillaries into the surrounding tissue. Depending on which insect stung and the intensity with which the body reacts to the sting and the poison, the swelling varies: For example, a mosquito bite swelling can manifest itself differently than a bee bite swelling.

Insect bite swelling treatment after mosquito bites

A mosquito bite swelling occurs because the body is allergic to certain proteins in the saliva of the mosquito: In about three out of four people, a wheal forms immediately at the bite site. The swelling and redness subside after a few hours or days. In the further course of time, a papule develops in about every second person affected. It feels rough and knotty and corresponds to a late allergic reaction to the saliva proteins.

By the way: A swelling of a horsefly bite is similar to swelling after a mosquito bite.

Insect bite swelling treatment after bee or wasp sting

A bee and wasp sting swelling is characterized by the fact that it develops very quickly after the sting. Redness in the center of the swelling is also characteristic. It is caused by substances in the venom of the bee, wasp, hornet, or bumblebee.

If it is a normal, localized reaction to the insect sting, the swelling will not exceed ten centimeters in diameter and will disappear as far as possible within 24 hours. An increased local reaction to an insect bite is when you notice that the swelling is more than ten centimeters in diameter and lasts for several days. You should then consult a doctor.

This also applies to insect venom allergies and insect bites in the mouth or throat: Swelling of the mucous membranes in the throat and pharynx can cause breathing problems and in the worst case can lead to suffocation! Call an emergency doctor immediately!

Scientific standards:

This text complies with the requirements of medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been reviewed by medical experts.

 ICD codes:

    ICD codes are internationally valid codes for medical diagnoses. They can be found, for example, in doctors’ letters or on certificates of incapacity to work.



    Sandra Eades

    Hello I am Sandra Eades, physician, researcher and author from Australia. I am working currently as researcher for a private institution. I have studied in Britain and Australia, where I currently reside. I write about research topics in the organization of the public health government agencies. For the iMS I write about general medical conditions. I also research scholar sources to provide information to writers of other articles. I also check the citations of scholar papers. Finally, I read other articles before they are published. I am also a mother of three children!

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