Summertime and warm weather bring with them the risk of insect bites and stings. Most insect bites are not serious, but are irritating. The bites cause mild reactions, such an itching or stinging sensation and mild swelling. A small percentage of people develop severe reactions, called anaphylaxis, to insect venom. Sever reactions my include facial swelling, breathing difficulty and shock
The venom of an insect bite may cause an allergic reaction, the severity of which depends upon the individual sensitivity. There can be immediate and delayed reactions to insect bites. A delayed reaction to an insect bite may include fever, hives, joint pain and swollen glands.
The most troublesome bites typically come from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants. Bites from ticks, biting flies, mosquitoes and some spiders can cause reactions which are usually milder but still irritating.
It’s a good idea to have a first aid kit handy, in the event of an insect bite. The first aid kit should contain packages of products to counteract insect bites.
First Aid for Mild Reactions
1. Move to safe area, away from insects.
2. Scrape, or brush off the stinger with a straight edged object, such as the back of a knife or credit card. Don’t try to pull the stinger out, as this may release more venom.
3. Wash the area with soap and water.
4. Apply a cold pack or cloth filled with ice.
5. Apply something to reduce the itch, such as hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion or baking soda paste.
6. Take oral antihistamine, such as Benedryl, Tylenol Severe Allergy, Chlor-Tritetron or Teldrin.
7. If allergic reactions, such as mild nausea, diarrhea, or swelling larger than 2 inches square occurs, see doctor promptly.
First Aid for Severe Reactions
Some people have more severe reactions to insect bites. Severe reactions may progress rapidly. Anaphylxis is a severe, life threatening allergic reaction. In sensitive people, life threatening respiratory distress can occur withing a few minutes of exposure, although the reaction can take up to several hours. Almost any allergy causing substance can cause anaphylactic shock, including insect venom, pollen, latex, drugs and certain food. People who have had anaphylactic reaction should get a prescription of a Epinephrine injection from their doctor, for emergency use. In addition, they should always carry an antihistamine with them.
If the following symptoms occur, call for emergency medical assistance from 911.
1. Difficulty breathing.
2. Swelling of the lips or throat.
6. Rapid heartbeat
While waiting for medical help, take the following steps to help a person who is having a serious reaction.
1. Check for medications they may be carrying for an allergic attack (such as epinephrine by injection, example
2. After administering epinephrine (if available), give the person an antihistamine pill, if they are able to swallow it.
3. Have the person lie still, on their back, with feet elevated higher that the head.
4. Loosen tight clothing.
5. Cover them with a blanket.
6. Don’t give them anything to drink.
7. If they are vomiting, or bleeding from the mouth, turn them on their side to prevent choking.
8. If they stop breathing, begin CPR.
Most insect bites will not require emergency measures. The majority of insect bites have only mild reactions. It is wise to be prepared for a more serious reaction.
The information in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a medical condition, contact a physician.