Most insect bites and stings are minor annoyances that itch like crazy and produce ugly, little welts that go away in a few days. But these pesky flying critters can make you pretty uncomfortable when they decide to munch on you. Here's what to do.
Any bite could develop complications. Stay alert for these potential problems.
Infection. Examine the wound periodically, says paramedic Jeff Rusteen. If it gets red, painful, or hot, infection has probably developed. Get professional help.
Preexisting chronic disease. If you have diabetes, lung disease, liver disease, cancer, AIDS, or any condition that makes it hard for you to fight infection, see a doctor.
Joseph Benforado, M.D., is a professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and past vice president of the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, which sets American drug standards.
David Golden, M.D., is an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Richard Hansen, M.D., is past medical director of the Poland Spring Health Institute in Poland Spring, Maine and medical director of Emerald Valley Wellness Center in Creswell, Oregon. He is the author of Get Well at Home.
Herbert Luscombe, M.D., is a professor emeritus of dermatology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. He is also formerly senior attending dermatologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Edgar Raffensperger, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus of entomology in the department of entomology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Stephen Rosenberg, M.D., is a clinical professor emeritus of public health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and senior vice president of outcomes research with ActiveHealth Management, Inc., both in New York City. He is the author of The Johnson & Johnson First-Aid Book.
Jeff Rusteen is a firefighter-paramedic with the Piedmont Fire Department in Piedmont, California.
George Shambaugh Jr., M.D., is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago.