Summertime bites and stings are inevitable for most of us. When an insect or spider bites or stings, a mild to serious reaction to the venom is possible.
If stung or bitten by a bee, yellow jacket, wasp, hornet or fire ant, you might experience severe (anaphylactic) allergic reactions.
What to Expect From Summertime Bites and Stings
- Mild reactions, itching, slight swelling and skin redness will disappear in 1 to 2 days.
- Severe reactions require emergency medical help. Symptoms include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain in the stomach area
- Swelling of the face
- Difficulty swallowing
- Overly fast or difficult breathing.
- Hard, persistent coughing, hoarseness and possible chest discomfort
- Weakness, dizziness, clammy skin or fainting
- Hives or itching over the whole body
Treating Mild Summertime Bites and Stings
- Remove the stinger by gently scraping it off your skin in a horizontal direction with your fingernail or the edge of your credit card. Avoid tweezers.
- Wash the area.
- The swelling may increase for two to three days.
Removing an Imbedded Tick
- Using tweezers, grab the tick very close to your skin.
- Gently tug without twisting.
- If the head stays embedded in the skin, it will come out on its own.
- Clean skin with antiseptic.
Treating Inflammation and Pain
When it comes to any summertime bites or stings, acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help the pain. Also consider applying cold packs to the area for temporary relief.
For itching and discomfort, try the following:
- Hydrocortisone cream, 0.5 or 1 percent, non-prescription (avoid areas around eyes or genitals)
- Calamine lotion
- Baking soda paste (3 teaspoons baking soda to 1 teaspoon water)
- Take an antihistamine (for children under age 6, contact the doctor for proper dosing)
- To avoid infection, don’t scratch.
Severe Reactions or Infection
Talk to your doctor if you have:
- Increasing redness, pain and/or swelling
- Heat/hot skin in the area of the sting or bite
- A red streak on the area and/or pus
For severe reaction (anaphylaxis) call 9-1-1 for emergency medical assistance. And if you’ve had a similar reaction before, don’t wait for signs of anaphylaxis. If you have a prescribed epinephrine kit, use it immediately and call 9-1-1.
Once you’ve had anaphylaxis in the past:
- Always carry your epinephrine kit or pen.
- Let friends, family and companions know about your severe reactions.
- Wear an allergy bracelet.
For medical supplies delivered nationwide, order from Mar-J Medical Supply online or visit our store in Boca Raton.
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