They can be, but the majority of insect bites and stings are harmless. Being overall harmless doesn't mean that insect bites can't cause some serious pain and inconvenience, however. Bee stings, wasp stings, and bites from fire ants can be quite painful. Other types of insect bites, for example, mosquito bites, aren't necessarily painful but they can be very itchy. While not common, the West Nile virus can be spread by mosquitoes in the U.S. Outside of the U.S., malaria and other dangerous infections are possible insect bite complications.
Being proactive is the best way to prevent insect bites. Insects should never be disturbed. Parents should make sure that their children understand that insect nests can be dangerous and should not be touched or agitated in any way. Whenever outdoors, particularly in the hot weather when insects are most prevalent, wear insect repellent at all times. Wear clothes that are lightweight but as full coverage as possible in areas where insects are a problem. Use caution when eating outside, since insects will invariably be drawn to food. When gardening, make sure to wear protective gear on the hands and body to prevent insects from biting. People who have known allergies to insects bites or stings need to have an epinephrine kit with them at all times.
Never scratch insect bites or stings, as it will only make the problem worse. Insect bites will usually heal on their own, but the application of aloe or another topical treatment may help soothe the bites while healing. Antihistamine medications may help reduce the swelling from insect bites, and anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen may help alleviate any discomfort caused by the bites or stings.