Insect Bites & Stings: Symptoms, Reactions, What To Do

Insect Bites & Stings

Symptoms of an insect bite result from the injection of venom or other substances into your skin. Bees leave their barbed stings behind the skin, unlike wasps. The venom triggers an allergic (immune) reaction. The severity of your reaction depends on your sensitivity to the insect venom or substance.

Most reactions are mild, causing little more than an annoying itching or stinging sensation and mild swelling that disappears within a day or so. A delayed reaction may cause fever, painful joints, hives and swollen glands.

Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants are the most troublesome insects. Mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and some spiders also can cause reactions, but these are generally milder.

For Mild Reactions:

1.Move to a safe area to avoid more stings.
2.Try to remove the stinger by scraping or brushing it off with a firm edge, such as a credit card or a knife. A stinger that is not removed continues to release venom into the body for as long as 20 minutes.
3.A bee sting may be washed using baking soda applied as a paste to the site. You can treat wasp and mosquito bites by applying lemon juice, witch hazel, cider vinegar, or crushed Plantain leaves. Lavender oil or tincture of Lobelia rubbed on the affected area will help to remove the discomfort of a bee or wasp sting or an insect bite.
4.If you start to have a reaction, take an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl or Tylenol Severe Allergy).

For Severe Reactions:

Severe reactions may progress rapidly. Dial 911 or call for emergency medical assistance if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms:

Difficulty breathing
Swelling of your lips or throat
Faintness
Confusion
Rapid heartbeat
Hives
Nausea, cramps or vomiting

While waiting for emergency transportation, consider giving the person an antihistamine and check to see if the person is carrying an allergy kit containing epinephrine. Follow the instructions on the kit.

Less severe reactions: Include mild nausea and intestinal cramps, diarrhea, or swelling larger than 2 inches in diameter at the site. See your physician promptly if you experience any of these signs or symptoms.

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