Stings can be painful but are not usually dangerous. However, stings to a person’s mouth or throat, or if the person is allergic can be serious and the person may need your help. Bites can cause wounds which could get infected. The person might need your help to clean the wound and stop any bleeding.

Quick help 

  • If the reaction is severe (difficulty breathing, fainting, or severe swelling), call 111 for an ambulance.
  • Check that the person is happy for you to touch them before you give first aid. If they are unconscious and you need to check for injuries or give lifesaving first aid, then don’t delay.


Warning signs of a severe allergic reaction - Call 111 immediately

Rash: Red spots on the person’s body.

Coughing: The person is breathing noisily or coughing.

Swelling: The person’s face, eyes or neck is swelling up.

Lightheadedness: The person is very dizzy and feels faint.

What to look for

Pain: A stinging pain

Headache: The person has pain in any part of their head. 

Nausea or vomiting: The person feels sick or is being sick.

Swelling: The bite or sting area swells up.

Redness: The area turns red or blotchy. 

Blurred or double vision: The person’s vision is fuzzy, or they see two objects instead of one. 

Weakness: The person feels weak and finds it hard to move. 

Difficulty breathing: The person finds it hard to breathe properly. 



A bite is made by a creature’s mouth, e.g., from a dog or spider.

Bites cause wounds which can get infected, so the person should see a doctor.

If the person has a deep wound with lots of blood call 111 for an ambulance.


sting is how a venomous creature injects its poison, e.g., a bee, wasp, or jellyfish.  

A sting on a person’s mouth or throat can be serious because it could cause swelling and make it difficult for the person to breathe.  

A sting can also be serious if the person is allergic, e.g., a bee sting. 

If the person is having a severe allergic reaction call 111 for an ambulance.


How you can help

Animal or human bite

  • If the wound is bleeding apply a firm pad.  
  • If it’s a small wound, clean it using warm water and a soft cloth. 
  • Put a bandage or plaster over the wound. 
  • Tell the person to see a doctor – they may need a tetanus jab or antibiotics to stop an infection. 

ant, or centipede bites

  • Wash the bitten area with lots of water. 
  • Put an ice pack wrapped in a cloth, or a cloth that’s been soaked in ice water, on the bitten area for up to 10 minutes at a time. 
  • If the bite is on an arm or a leg, raise the arm or leg to stop swelling.
  • Katipo or red-back spider bites can make a baby or small child sick, but won’t cause death.  
  • White-tailed spider bites can be painful, but the effects don’t last long. 
  • See a doctor if the person is a baby or young child.

Jellyfish bites and stings

  • Don’t let the person rub the sting area. 
  • Wash the sting area with lots of water and gently pull off any tentacles that are still attached to the person’s skin. 
  • Pour hot water over the sting area (as hot as possible without burning the person). A hot shower is a good option. 
  • If you don’t have hot water, put ice wrapped in a damp cloth, or cold water, on the sting area instead. 
  • DO NOT put vinegar or urine on the sting. 

Bee or wasp stings

  • Bees leave their sting in a person’s skin, wasps don’t.
  • If the person was stung by a bee, quickly remove the sting. Brush or scrape the sting off the person’s skin (it doesn’t matter how you do it). 
  • Put an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or a cloth that’s been soaked in ice water on the sting area. 
  • If the sting is on an arm or a leg, raise the arm or leg to stop swelling. 
  • Watch the person closely for any sign of an allergic reaction.
  • Some people are allergic to bee or wasp stings and may collapse within 3 or 4 minutes of being stung. They will need urgent medical attention.


If you have a person in urgent need of medical attention, call 111 now.  


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