To Help Soothe, Heal & Protect
Bee, wasp and hornet stings during the summer are all too common as we spend more time having fun outdoors and wind up confronting insects in their natural environment. Usually, there is nothing to worry about. Though a sting can be irritating and even painful it’s not usually very harmful. The first step is to be aware of the presence of stinging insects to try to avoid them in the first place. If you see a hive, the best thing to do is to leave it alone. Do not disrupt the hive or swat at stinging insects—avoidance is the best thing. If they are in your yard and cause a potential threat to you or your family, most communities have beekeepers who will gladly remove bee hives from your home, often at no cost. While bee stings can be bothersome and even deadly if you are allergic, bees provide a critical function in our food chain, helping to pollinate plants, so saving bees whenever possible is important. Now, about those stings!
If you or a family member gets stung, the first thing you want to do is check for any signs of an allergic reaction. Hives or swelling of the mouth, skin, tongue or throat, any difficulty breathing or wheezing, restlessness and anxiety, rapid pulse, dizziness or loss of consciousness—if any of these signs and symptoms are present, seek emergency medical attention immediately.
A normal reaction to a sting includes a small welt and swelling around the sting area, pain and redness. Steps to take under these conditions are to first remove the stinger—usually tweezers and ice can help. Wash the area thoroughly to prevent any infections. Then, apply ice to reduce swelling and help numb pain. Applying calamine lotion may also be helpful to relieve pain and aid in healing. If the pain is intense, seek medical attention from a physician to see if an antihistamine would be recommended.
Insect bites such as those from mosquitoes and ticks along with bites from pesky arachnids (spiders) should be treated with similar care as insect stings. Often bites are found after the insect has already left the scene, making it difficult to pinpoint the specific type of insect responsible for the bite. The exception to this is a tick, which tends to burrow its head in the skin of its victim. If you find a tick on you or someone else remove it (tweezers and ice can be helpful), and save the tick if possible to present to a physician if further medical attention is needed.
As with all insect bites, check for signs of fluid in the wound site (particularly with spider bites),chills, fever, stomach cramps, vomiting, increasing pain and stiffness, headache, fatigue, rash and muscle cramps. If any of these signs and symptoms are present seek emergency medical attention from a physician immediately. These signs can indicate anything from an allergic reaction to poisoning from a spider bite or severe disease that can be carried by mosquitoes and ticks.
Otherwise, wash the sting area thoroughly to prevent any infections. Then, apply ice to reduce swelling and help numb pain. Applying calamine lotion may also be helpful to relieve pain and aid in healing. If the pain is intense, seek medical attention from a physician to see if an antihistamine would be recommended.
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