Healthwise
To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Toxic Reaction to Insect or Spider Venom

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Bites and stings from insects (bees, wasps, yellow jackets) and spiders usually cause pain, swelling, redness, and itching at the site of the sting or bite. In some people, especially children, the redness and swelling may be worse and last up to a few days.

A few people have severe reactions to the toxin injected by the insect or spider. A toxic reaction occurs when insect or spider venom acts like a poison in the body. This type of reaction can occur from one bite or sting from a highly toxic insect or spider, or from multiple bites or stings from insects or spiders not normally considered poisonous.

Symptoms of a toxic reaction vary depending on the insect or spider, the toxicity of the venom, and the amount of venom injected. Most often, symptoms improve or go away within 48 hours. Although hives and difficulty breathing may occur in an allergic reaction, these symptoms will not occur in a toxic reaction. It is possible to have both a toxic reaction and an allergic reaction at the same time.

A toxic reaction may require immediate medical care or may lead to death. Signs and symptoms of a toxic reaction may include:

In addition to injecting venom, the sting or bite may also cause an infection that could require medical care. Symptoms of infection may include:


Credits for Toxic Reaction to Insect or Spider Venom

Current as of: February 10, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine


Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.