On 9:06 AM by NY Drs. Urgent Care
To continue the Summer Ailments series, next is the all too common bites and stings.You can be bitten by a variety of insects including midges, mosquitoes, horseflies, fleas, lice and ants and some people react worse to bites and stings than others.
The site of the bite may appear red and swell or be itchy. This reaction is an allergic response to a chemical injected into the skin by the insect when it bites and cause a great deal of misery.
Stings from wasps, bees and jellyfish can also be very painful and cause a red itchy rash. Plants such as nettles can also irritate the skin, leaving a red mottled rash. Although the redness and swelling usually clear quickly, again, some people are very sensitive to stings and can develop a severe allergic reaction. This can cause swelling of the face, difficulty in breathing and dizziness, and it is vital to get medical help immediately.
If a bee or a wasp stings you, the sting is often left behind. This should be removed immediately by scraping the skin with the blade of a knife or a fingernail. Do not squeeze the skin because this will only push more of the sting under your skin.
Bites and stings should be kept clean, and an antiseptic cream applied to stop an infection developing. And, however tempting, insect bites should not be scratched as this may increase the risk of infection.
A wide range of sprays, creams and lotions can be used to ease a bite or sting. These contain ingredients such as hydrocortisone to clear up the redness and lidocaine or benzocaine to ease the pain. Painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin can also be used to reduce the pain. A cold compress can be applied to bee and wasp stings and is very soothing. If you are bitten on the ankles or lower legs and experience swelling, raise your legs on a stool or coffee table.
CAUTION: If you have a very severe reaction - difficulty in breathing, dizziness, vomiting or swelling of the face - seek medical help immediately.

Prevention: What can you do to prevent bites?
  • Use insect repellent to protect yourself from insect bites, especially when sitting outside on summer evenings
  • If you know you are particularly susceptible and/or sensitive to insect bites, cover your arms and legs when outside
  • Avoid eating sweet, sticky food, or drinking sugary drinks when outside in the summer as these attract insects.