Insects are all around us, especially during the summer months so it is very likely that many people will be bitten or stung by an insect at some point. Do you know what to do if this happens?
Most insect bites or stings cause small reactions that are confined to the area of the bite; this is generally visible in the form of a red lump that is usually very itchy.
Symptoms of bites and stings usually clear up within several hours but there are some tips and tricks you can do at home to help relieve the irritations bites and stings cause.
Minor bites and stings can be treated by:
Washing the affected area with soap and water
Placing a cold compress (a flannel or cloth cooled with cold water) over the affected area to reduce swelling
Not scratching the area as it can be become infected (keep children’s fingernails short and clean)
If the bite or sting is painful or swollen, you can also:
Wrap an ice pack (such as a bag of frozen peas) in a towel and place it on the swelling
Take painkiller, such as Paracetamol or ibuprofen (children under 16 years-old should not be given aspirin)
Use a spray or cream that contact local anaesthetic, antihistamine or mild hydrocortisone (one per cent) on the affected area to prevent itching and swelling
Take an antihistamine tablet to help reduce swelling (antihistamine tablets are from pharmacies)
If you develop blisters after being bitten by an insect, don’t burst them because they may become infected. Blisters don’t usually cause pain unless they burst and expose the new skin underneath. If possible use a large plaster or bandage to protect the blistered area.
“Some people develop a serious allergy to either wasp or bee stings (rarely to both) called anaphylaxis,” explained Dr Faisel Baig, local GP and Unplanned Care Lead with North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). “Anaphylaxis is not common, but people of all ages can be affected. People with other allergic conditions, such as asthma or the allergic skin condition atopic eczema, are most at risk of developing anaphylaxis. This is potentially life threatening and should always be treated as a medical emergency.”
Signs of anaphylaxis include:
itchy skin or a raised, red skin rash
swollen eyes, lips, hands and feet
feeling lightheaded or faint
swelling of the mouth, throat or tongue, which can cause breathing and swallowing difficulties
abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
collapse and unconsciousness
Ticks are increasingly becoming an unpleasant feature of strolls through UK woods, moors or thick grass. Once they’ve latched onto you, ticks cling to your skin and suck your blood. The bite doesn’t really hurt, but certain types of tick can transmit a condition called Lyme disease (a bacterial infection that causes a pink or red circular rash to develop around the area of the bite).
If you have been bitten by a tick, remove it as soon as possible. Remove the tick correctly by:
Using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool (your local pet shop or veterinary surgery will supply these)
Wear gloves or use tissue over your fingers to avoid touching the tick
Grabbing the tick as close to the skin as possible
Gently but firmly pulling straight up until all of the tick’s mouth parts have been removed
Do not twist or jerk the tick while removing it to avoid the mouth parts breaking off and staying in the skin
Washing your hands with soap and water afterwards
Don’t use petroleum jelly, alcohol, a lit match or any other method to try to remove a tick. It won’t work and could cause an infection.
Remember, you may need to go to your GP for a bite or sting if:
Local swelling is severe
You have an allergic reaction after being bitten or stung such as a skin rash (hives)
The redness and itching gets worse or doesn’t clear up after a few days
The bite or sting fills with pus and feels tender to touch, your glands swell up and you feel unwell with flu-like symptoms
If you have swelling or itching anywhere else on your body after being bitten or stung, are wheezing or having difficulty swallowing you will need emergency medical treatment. Dial 999 to request an ambulance.
Councillor Rob Waltham, cabinet member for Health and Strategic Projects, said: “Quite often; at home and abroad people will be bitten or stung by insects. And on most occasions they will disappear within a day or so. However there are times when further action will need to be taken. If you are bitten or stung by an insect and you have a reaction to this, please seek medical advice straightway. Follow the tips and advice for dealing with bites and stings to ensure you keep safe.”