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They turn red. They itch. They swell. But how do you tell the difference between stings, bites and rashes? And how do you treat them?

If you spend a lot of time outside, take a moment now to learn more about stings, bites and rashes and when to see a doctor.

We’re open 365 days and most of our clinics are open 7 days a week, including holidays, to help you handle any of these skin surprises – and so much more.


Under Attack: Stings and Bites


Insects (such as bees, wasps, mosquitoes, ants and flies) and arachnids (such as spiders, ticks and scorpions) can sting or bite if you get too close or they feel threatened.


The initial contact of stings and bites may be painful. Stings and bites are often followed by an allergic reaction to venom deposited into your skin through the animal’s mouth or stinger. However, the appearance of the reaction can vary widely.


What Your Sting or Bite May Look Like


The form your sting or bite takes will depend on what type of animal bit you. For example:


Bee stings 

  • A white spot often appears where the stinger punctured your skin.
  • Pain, redness, swelling and/or itching typically occur at the site of the sting.
  • Most bees can sting multiple times. However, honeybees only sting once, thanks to barbed stingers that can remain lodged in your skin.


Mosquito bites

  • Mosquito bites are small, round, puffy bumps that appear soon after you are bitten.
  • The bumps become red, hard, itchy and/or swollen.
  • You may have several bites in the same area.


Fire ant bites

  • Fire ants are small, aggressive ants that bite and then deliver painful stings.
  • The stings appear as swollen red spots that develop blisters on top.
  • These spots may also burn and/or itch for several days.


When to See a Doctor for Stings and Bites


Most stings and bites trigger nothing more than temporary minor discomfort, but some of these encounters can be deadly – especially if you have severe allergies to the animal’s venom.


FastMed can treat a wide range of mild to moderate reactions to stings and bites, as well as mild to moderate allergic reactions. Be sure to visit us if the site of the sting or bite worsens or shows signs of infection.


A severe allergic reaction can lead to anaphylactic shock, which is a potentially fatal condition. Seek emergency care immediately if any of the following symptoms occur after a sting or bite:


  • Trouble breathing
  • Dizziness, fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Swelling of the lips, face, eyelids or throat
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea


Lots of Reasons for Rashes


Like stings and bites, rashes involve changes in the color, feeling and/or texture of your skin. However, there are many different types of rashes – and many different causes behind them.


Some of the most common reasons why rashes develop include allergic reactions, infections, diseases and even weather conditions. For example:


Eczema (Dermatitis)

  • Eczema can appear anywhere on your body after coming in contact with an allergen or other irritant.
  • An eczema rash typically begins as small red bumps and then grows into patches that are dry, itchy, scaly and/or cracked.
  • The patches may occasionally ooze as well.


Fungal Rash

  • Fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, jock itch and ringworm can all cause rashes.
  • A fungal rash can appear on any part of your body, even your fingernails.
  • You may develop red, pimple-like bumps or scaly, flaky patches.


Heat Rash

  • Heat rash is caused by blocked sweat glands during hot weather.
  • Your skin will first redden and then develop tiny bumps or blisters that itch.
  • Heat rash usually appears on parts of your body that get too hot, such as skin folds in your groin.


When to See a Doctor for Rashes


If you feel itchy and uncomfortable, you’ll likely want the healing process to start as soon as possible. Depending on the type of rash you have, you may need medical help to clear it up. Some rashes can also be a sign of a more serious condition.


FastMed can diagnose and treat your rash and prescribe medications if necessary. Be sure to seek professional treatment if the rash:


  • Is all over your body
  • Appears suddenly and spreads quickly
  • Becomes infected
  • Does not improve within 48 hours
  • Is accompanied by a fever, sore throat or joint pain


Again, you will need immediate care if you experience any of the anaphylactic shock symptoms listed above. Call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room.


FastMed Soothes Stings, Bites and Rashes


There’s no reason to spend time itching, in pain or wondering what’s happening with your skin. Just walk in or check in online, and we’ll take care of the rest! Find a FastMed clinic today.

About FastMed

FastMed is a leading provider of high-quality, convenient, affordable, and compassionate healthcare in 34 counties across North Carolina. FastMed serves both urban and rural communities across the state with a wide range of care options, including preventive, telemedicine, occupational health, and primary and urgent care. FastMed is one of the few urgent care providers in the nation that has earned The Joint Commission’s coveted Gold Seal of Approval® for quality, safety, and infection control in ambulatory healthcare. For more information, visit

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