As the weather warms up, many of us will start heading outdoors to enjoy all that nature has to offer. Whether you are planning a picnic at your favorite park or a week-long camping trip, spending time outdoors brings an increased risk of insect bites and bee stings. Mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, bees, wasps, spiders and scorpions can all cause adverse reactions, ranging from minor annoyances to life-threatening conditions.
While the types of insects you’ll encounter may vary by region, you’ve likely experienced a bug bite or sting at some point in your life. For most people, they result in localized pain and itching, but sometimes you may need to seek medical care. Read on for information on how to treat bites and stings at home, how to reduce the risk of being targeted by pests, and when to seek medical attention.
What to do if you’ve been bitten or stung
If you have already had a run-in with a biting or stinging insect, there are some steps you can take to minimize your discomfort:
- Remove stingers or ticks as quickly as possible.
- Move to a safe place. If you’re stung and are near a wasp nest or bee hive, retreat to an area where you won’t get swarmed.
- Use antiseptic soap to clean the wound. Apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
- Use a cold compress or ice to reduce swelling, and relieve pain and itching.
- Consider using an over-the-counter antihistamine (such as Benadryl) to reduce swelling and itching.
What can you do to reduce the risk of being bitten or stung in the first place?
- Use an insect repellent spray on your body to deter mosquitoes, ticks, and flies.
- Use citronella candles in outdoor spaces to repel mosquitoes from the area.
- Hang yellowjacket traps around your yard.
- Regularly check under the eaves of your roof, in your attic, bushes, dead tree stumps, and other dark corners for signs of bee and wasp nests. You can buy bee and wasp spray that kills on contact and prevents them from coming back to their hive later.
When to seek treatment
Call 911 or head to the ER if you notice any of the following signs of allergic reaction:
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- Nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing or tongue swelling
In some cases, even if you don’t experience an allergic reaction, you may still need to seek treatment. If you are bitten by a tick, there is a chance of contracting Lyme Disease or other tick-borne illnesses. If you find a tick on yourself, should remove it and place it in an airtight container in your freezer and watch for signs of Lyme disease. If you have any symptoms of Lyme Disease, your healthcare provider can run tests to determine if you are infected. The sooner they diagnose Lyme Disease, the easier and more successful treatment can be.
Further, you might need to see a doctor if a bug bite becomes infected. Signs of infection include swelling that doesn’t improve or gets worse over many days, fluid leaking from the wound, the presence of sores around the wound, warmth radiating from the affected area, fever, and chills. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
We hope that your summer gets off to a great start and you can enjoy the outdoors bug-free! But if you find yourself in need of treatment or advice, we’re here to help. Walk-in appointments are always welcome!