boy with bug bite

Emergency Sting, Bite, and Burn Care

What to expect when experiencing an emergency sting, bite, or burn

If you spend any time outdoors, especially during the summer months, you know how common stings, bites, and burns are. It is important to use caution when outdoors because you never know how an insect sting, animal bite, or skin burns from a poisonous plant may react with your body. Some situations may require immediate medical attention for the best outcome.

How to Distinguish the Difference Between a Sting, Bite, or Burn

When dealing with a bite, sting, or burn, using your best judgment is recommended. Most of the time bites, stings, or burns are mild and only cause temporary discomfort. Sometimes, you may automatically know the exact thing you came in contact with and the reaction to expect, however, the majority of the time, people do not know the name of the insect that bit them or the name of the poisonous plant they touched. They only know after experiencing symptoms that may sometimes be unbearable.

Most stings and bites need medical attention when any of the following symptoms are present:

  • swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat
  • labored breathing
  • hives
  • blisters
  • dizziness or loss of consciousness
  • muscle spams
  • increases heart rate

Most burns need medical attention when any of the following symptoms are present:

  • red rash at the site of contact
  • swelling
  • extreme itching
  • bumps or blisters
  • oozing liquid

It is important to note that bites, stings, and burns may cause a mild to severe allergic reaction.

Treatment for Bites, Stings, and Burns

There are thousands of different stings, bites, and burns from different plants, insects, and animals. Therefore, the required treatment for each may differ, especially if the incident has started an allergic reaction. Your treatment for bites and stings depends on your symptoms present and allergies.

Common At-Home Remedies for Bites, Stings, and Burns

  1. Apply a cold cloth with water or ice to the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes
  2. Remove any stingers
  3. Gently wash the area with soap and water
  4. Apply an antibiotic ointment to the infected area, like calamine lotion, baking soda paste, or hydrocortisone cream
  5. Apply pure aloe vera gel directly to the affected area

If you experience discomfort or uncertainty after a bite, sting, or burn, seek immediate medical attention, even if your symptoms are mild.

What Not to Do When You Have A Bite, Sting, or Burn

When you have a bite, sting, or burn, it is important to not:

  • cut, scratch, or cause a laceration at the injury site
  • completely cover, like a tight tourniquet 
  • drink alcohol
  • touch the infected area and then touch other areas of the skin
  • pop blisters that may form

For all your medical emergencies this summer, East Valley ER & Hospital is here to provide you and your loved ones with exceptional emergency care to get you feeling better quickly. From bites to stings to burns, our team of expert-level physicians are equipped to provide rapid and accurate treatment. Open 24/7/365 – we are here for all your emergency medical needs!

Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, East Valley ER & Hospital and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.