First Aid for Insect Bites and Stings

Insect bites and stings result in a little itchiness redness which often goes away on its own after a few hours of days.

However, if you have an allergic reaction to insect bites and stings, you must know what to in case it happens.

Insects release venom or other substances into your skin when they bite or sting. This venom triggers an allergic reaction. The severity of your reaction depends on your sensitivity to the venom or substance.

Most people have mild reactions to insect bites or stings, causing only a bit of itching or stinging sensation; or a little redness or swelling that goes away after a few days.

A delayed allergic reaction may cause fever, painful joints, swollen glands, and hives. You may experience both immediate and delayed reaction from the same insect bite or sting.

A small percentage of people however, experience severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to insect venom. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:

  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shock

Bites from bees, wasps, hornets, fire ants and yellow jackets are usually the ones cause severe allergic reactions. Bites from ticks, mosquitoes, biting flies and some spiders can also cause allergic reactions, but theirs are usually milder.

First aid for mild allergic reactions

Mild allergic reactions also include mild nausea, intestinal cramps, diarrhea, and swelling bigger than 2 inches in diameter at the bite site. See your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.

To treat a mild allergic reaction:

  • Go to a safer are to avoid getting bitten or stung some more.
  • Do not try to pull the stinger out. Doing so may release more venom. Scrape or brush off the stinger instead with a straight-edged object like the back of a knife. Wash the affected area with soap and water.
  • Put hydrocortisone cream (0.5-1 percent), calamine lotion, or baking soda paste (3 teaspoon baking soda to 1 teaspoon water) on the affected area several times a day or until your symptoms disappear.
  • Take an antihistamine with diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine maleate.

First aid for severe allergic reactions

Severe allergic reactions advanced rapidly. In case of a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting, call 911 or your local emergency medical assistance. Signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the lips or throat
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hives
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cramps

While waiting for emergency medical help to arrive, do the following:

  • Check for medications that the affected person may be carrying to treat an allergic attack. Examples include auto-injectors of epinephrine. Administer the medication as directed. Massage the site of injection for 10 seconds to improve absorption.
  • After administering epinephrine, give the person an antihistamine pill if he or she can swallow it without choking.
  • Make the person lie still on his or her back with his or her feet higher than the head.
  • Loosen the person’s tight clothing and cover him or her with a blanket. Don’t give him or her anything to drink.
  • If there is vomiting or bleeding from the mouth, turn the person over on his or her side to prevent choking.
  • Peform CPR is the person is not moving, breathing or coughing.

Source: Mayo Clinic