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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Bites & stings

Ngau me wero


If someone is wheezing, has difficulty breathing or has a fast heart rate after an insect bite, phone 111 straight away and ask for an ambulance. Then follow the first aid instructions for anaphylaxis.

Human and animal bites

cat biteHumans and animals carry a lot of germs (bacteria) in their mouths, so both human and animal bites can be quite dangerous, particularly if the bite breaks the skin.

Helping someone who has been bitten


If a finger, ear or other body part has been bitten off, wash it in tap water and wrap it in clean tissue. Put it in a plastic bag and seal the bag. Place the bag in a container of cold water with ice and make sure it goes to the hospital with the injured person.

Getting medical help

Human and animal bites have a high chance of getting infected, even if the wounds look quite small. In most cases it's best to see your general practice team to check if the person who has been bitten needs antibiotics and to check if their tetanus immunisation is up to date.

You should also get help if:

Insect bites and stings

Insect bites are very common. They often cause mild irritation such as redness, swelling and itching around them. There may also be a blister in the middle of the bite. Very rarely, a person can have a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite and will need urgent medical help.

For a bee sting, remove the sting by scraping it off using your fingers or a credit card.

Helping someone who has been bitten or stung

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2022.


Page reference: 283903

Review key: HIFAD-141030