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When Should You Worry About an Insect Bite?

Summer is almost here. While warmer weather and longer days mean more opportunities for outdoor fun, it can also mean an increased risk of insect bites.

Did you know people can get stung or bitten over a number of years without ever having an issue and then all of the sudden have a moderate to severe allergic reaction? It’s unsettling but true. The reason for this is, over time, your body gets more sensitive to the venom in the sting or bite.

For this reason and more, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of a serious allergic reaction to insect bites so you know when to worry and seek medical care.

Insect bites: When to worry

Severe symptoms
If you notice one or more of the following severe symptoms following an insect bite, call 911 or visit the nearest urgent care or emergency room for immediate medical attention:

  • Past life-threatening allergic reaction to the same insect bite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Swelling in the face, eyes, lips, tongue or throat
  • Skin rash

These could be signs of anaphylaxis, which is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that needs to be treated with epinephrine right away.

Moderate to severe symptoms
Other moderate to severe allergic reasons that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Hoarse voice, coughing, or tightness in the throat or chest
  • Difficulty swallowing, drooling or slurred speech
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Confusion
  • Hives or swelling all over the body
  • Symptoms from a disease carried by one of the insects (e.g., Lyme disease, Malaria, West Nile)

Moderate symptoms
If you notice one or more of these less-severe symptoms within the first 24 hours, seek medical attention:

  • Severe pain that does not feel better with pain medication
  • New redness around the bite area that starts 24 hours or more after the bite
  • Bite and redness get larger (even after 48 hours)
  • Bite and redness get larger than 1 inch

Insect bites: Know what bit you

When you get a moderate to severe allergic reaction to an insect bite, it’s important to know when to worry, so you can get yourself to the nearest urgent care or emergency room for treatment.

Be sure to communicate with your doctor where you were when you got bitten, so they can determine which insect likely bit you and how to treat it properly. Here are some common insect bites and their symptoms:


  • Chills
  • Joint or muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever
  • Red or purple-spotted rash
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

Venomous spiders

  • Pain and swelling that extends to your stomach, back or chest
  • Stomach cramping
  • Sweating or chills
  • Nausea
  • Body aches
  • Dark blue or purple area towards the center of the bite that may turn into a large wound


  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Red, itchy eyes
  • Aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Rash

Insect bites: How to prevent them

You can avoid insect bites with the help of protective clothing and insect repellents. Also, if you’re planning a trip to areas where mosquito-borne and tick-borne illnesses are common, visit your doctor to discuss receiving preventative vaccines or medications to avoid severe symptoms.

If you do happen to get an insect bite, Coastal Urgent Care of Gonzales is here to help. Whether you’re experiencing an allergic reaction or just feel uncomfortable treating an insect bite at home, urgent care is the perfect solution. Our team of skilled, board-certified physicians can evaluate the bite and provide prescriptions to alleviate pain and itch, decrease swelling, and prevent complications.

We welcome walk-in appointments Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sat-Sun, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.