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When to Go to Urgent Care for Insect Bites and Stings


Summertime in the Bear Creek, Katy, Houston, and Sugar Land area signals the return of our “favorite” yearly visitors: biting insects. Our side of town gets to see the usual painful suspects:

  • Mosquitoes
  • Fire Ants
  • Spiders
  • Wasps
  • Fleas

If you’re “lucky,” you’ll get acquainted with ticks, centipedes, millipedes, chiggers, lice, bedbugs, and yellow jackets. While anyone who has had to deal with any kind of insect bite or sting can attest to how uncomfortable, even painful, they can be, when does an insect bite warrant a trip to the urgent care clinic near you?

1. Pain

As residents of Houston, we know to avoid large piles of dirt and the wax-like structures stuck to walls. We’ve been taught (whether through our own experience or through the experience of others) that stings from bees and wasps, as well as bites from multiple fire ants, hurt. However, this pain alone is usually not severe enough to warrant a trip to urgent care. However, if the pain from a bite is pulsing or stings excessively, you should play it safe and visit a board certified urgent care physician.

2. Signs of Infection

If the mysterious new insect bite that you got after spending a summer’s day in Bear Creek Park is starting to look red and swollen, you should get an urgent care doctor to look at it. Sometimes, untreated insect bites can lead to a problem called cellulitis. Mayo Clinic describes the condition as a, “common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection.” If you experience redness, swelling, pain, open skin, or any other sign of infection at the site, get medical attention.

3. Signs of Abscess

Abscesses can accompany an infection. However, deep abscesses can indicate a more severe condition, namely a spider bite. During summer, children may romp around in unfamiliar places. If you suspect that a new bite mark accompanied by an abscess could be from a spider, visit your local urgent care right away. Certain species of spiders, namely brown recluse spiders, can deteriorate human flesh with a single bite without quick medical attention.

4. Unknown Origin

This errs on the side of caution. While many people can remember if they’ve swiped away a few mosquitoes or accidentally stepped near an ant pile while wearing flip flop, any new bites of unknown origin are a candidate for a proper diagnosis. Ticks, for example, leave welts that can be difficult to diagnose. Ticks are renown carriers of potentially life-threatening Lyme disease. Additionally, children may not know what caused the bite in the first place. The collection of itchy, red welts on their legs might be from fire ants, chiggers, fleas, or another insect entirely. While unknown bites like these can be treated with over-the-counter remedies, parents can err on the safe side and bring young children to an urgent care physician for weekend misadventures.

When You SHOULD NOT Go to Urgent Care for Insect Bite

Patients who experience an anaphylactic allergic reaction to insect stings and bites should go to the ER immediately following an incident, based on the severity of the reaction. According to WebMD, “Approximately 50 deaths each year in the U.S. are attributed to insect sting allergies.” Patients who are severely allergic to bee stings, fire ant bites, etc. might experience difficulty breathing, face/throat swelling, dizziness, wheezing, and severe hives all over their body. Do not attempt to treat severe allergic reactions alone, and do NOT go to an urgent care center: go to the ER.

Quick Urgent Care in Houston for Insect Stings and Bites

Were you or your child the unfortunate victim of a bite this summer? There’s always a board certified physician on-site at West Oaks Urgent Care to answer your questions about mystery insect bites.

If you live Sugar Land, Katy, or southwest Houston, stop by West Oaks Urgent Care to speak with a board certified physician today.


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