August 2, 2011
Insect Bites and StingsInsect bites and stings increase in frequency with the warm weather of spring and summer. The symptoms can range from skin reactions, to systemic reactions, to allergic reactions.
Skin reactions: red lumps in the skin with pain and possibly itching
Systemic reactions: nausea and vomiting, headache, fever, dizziness, and lightheadedness, swelling
Allergic reactions: itching eyes, dry cough, and wheezing, chest and throat tightness
Prevention of insect bites
First Aid: (if you have a severe allergic reaction call 911).
- Avoid areas with many insects.
- Be aware of the increased risk in spring and summer.
- Use of perfumes and colognes increases risk.
- Use of insect repellents with (DEET) diethyltoluamide may decrease risk.
- Treat pets for fleas.
Seek medical care if
- Remove stinger (scrape it out, don’t use tweezers).
- For bee, wasp, yellow jacket, or hornet stings make a paste of meat tenderizer and water and rub into site.
- Capture the insect if suspect spider or scorpion or unidentified insect.
- For ticks and mites apply a petroleum product (Vaseline) until the animal withdraws.
- Clean the area and apply ice.
- Elevating the affected area will decrease pain and swelling.
- Soak the area to relieve itching. Warm water soaks usually help pain or inflammation. Cool water soaks are better for itching.
- If you have had anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) following an insect bite, carry and learn to use an anaphylaxis kit.
- Over the counter antihistamines (Benadryl) can decrease itching. Antihistamines may cause drowsiness.
- Over the counter topical steroid preparations (Hydrocortisone ointments and creams) may reduce redness and swelling and decrease itching. Read label carefully. Some preparations cannot be used on the face or in the genital area.
- A tetanus vaccine may be needed if you never had one or had one greater than 5-10 years ago.
- For severe allergic reactions seek care immediately. Most minor symptoms resolve after 2-3 days of treatment.
This information is provided only as an informational resource for consumers. For advice regarding a specific medical condition, please consult your personal physician.
- Symptoms are not relieved or do not improve after 2-3 days of the above care.
- The area becomes red, swollen, warm, and tender (shows signs of infection).
- Temperature rises to 101 Fahrenheit or more.
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