Summer Stings: How To Treat Insect Bites (Infographic)
Most stings cause nothing more than temporary pain. But for some, getting stung can trigger anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Here's what to know about insect stings:
Just A Sting? Here's What To Do
- Quickly remove the stinger if still in the skin.
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Apply a cold compress to dull the pain.
- Spread a topical cream with hydrocortisone or lidocaine on the wound to relieve pain.Use an oral, over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Signs Of An Allergic Reaction To A Sting
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramping, nausea or vomiting
- Chest discomfort or tightness
- Rapid heart beat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Slurred speech
- Swelling of the lips, eyelids or throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Wheezing or high-pitched breathing sounds
Allergic Reactions That Are Emergencies
Anaphylaxis symptoms usually occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen, although anaphylaxis can occasionally occur an hour or longer after exposure.
Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Pale or flushed skin
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Weak or rapid pulse
Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention. It is treated with an injection of epinephrine that quickly reverses the anaphylactic symptoms and can be lifesaving. Epinephrine can be self-administered with an injection in the thigh. You may need to carry self-administered epinephrine with you. During an anaphylactic attack, you can give yourself the injection.