Summer Emergencies: Treat Insect Bites and Stings

Posted Jul 27, 2011 | Posted in Diseases & Treatments

Summer Emergencies: Treating Insect Bites and StingsYou’re lounging outside with your glass of lemonade and an unwanted visitor buzzes by — a bee. Bee and other insect stings are common summer emergencies, but there are plenty of things you can do to treat insect bites and stings.

The best way to avoid stings is to try and prevent them in the first place. Guard any food or sugary drinks, and wear light clothing that doesn’t have a floral pattern, as insects that sting are attracted to dark colors and flowers. Try to stay away from heavy perfumes and scents.

Sometimes a sting is unavoidable. Most people will just experience a little pain, tenderness, redness and slight swelling at the site of the sting. If you are stung, here are some quick steps you should take:

Get away from the bee. These insects emit a scent that lets other bees around them know that there’s trouble, so try to avoid any other potential stings.

Remove the stinger. You don’t need to scrape it, but make sure you get the stinger out – the longer it’s in your body, the more the venom will spread. Can’t find one? Several relatives of the honey bee –wasps, yellow jackets and hornets – do not leave a stinger, but they still can cause a similar reaction.

Treat the wound. Ice the spot where you were stung to reduce the swelling, and take antihistamines to reduce any itching. If the itching continues over time, apply a cortisone cream. Dabbing the sting with baking soda or baking soda-based toothpaste can reduce the pain by cooling it. If it’s still persistent, take ibuprofen to help with the pain.

If you begin to develop hives and/or have trouble breathing, call 911 immediately. If you know you’re allergic to particular types of stings, be sure to carry an EpiPen and have Benadryl on hand.

Here at Johnston Health we have an urgent care center, QuikMed, where we can treat allergic reactions to bee and insect bites and stings. It’s open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located inside the Johnston Health Medical Mall in Smithfield.

Lazy summer days can sometimes be cut short by stings, but they don’t have to end because of them. Follow these simple steps to treat your sting at home, and soon you can get back to lying in the sun.

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