Most insect bites and stings are not serious and will get better within a few hours or days.
But occasionally they can become infected, cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or spread serious illnesses such as Lyme disease and malaria .
Bugs that bite or sting include wasps, hornets, bees, horseflies, ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, bedbugs , spiders and midges.
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Insect bites and stings will usually cause a red, swollen lump to develop on the skin. This may be painful and in some cases can be very itchy.
The symptoms will normally improve within a few hours or days, although sometimes they can last a little longer.
Some people have a mild allergic reaction and a larger area of skin around the bite or sting becomes swollen, red and painful. This should pass within a week.
Occasionally, a severe allergic reaction can occur, causing symptoms such as breathing difficulties, dizziness and a swollen face or mouth. This requires immediate medical treatment (see below).
The pain, swelling and itchiness can sometimes last a few days. Ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter treatments that can help, such as painkillers, creams for itching and antihistamines .
You may need to take extra precautions if you're travelling to part of the world where there's a risk of serious illnesses. For example, you may be advised totake antimalarial tablets tohelp prevent malaria.
Read about some of the most common insect bites and stings, how they're treated and when to get medical advice.
Find out about the symptoms of common insect bites and stings, including wasp stings, mosquito bites, horsefly bites and tick bites.
Find out how to treat an insect bite or sting, including how to remove stings or ticks, what you can do to relieve the symptoms and when to get medical advice.