If you’ve been stung by a bee or bitten by an insect…

If you’ve been stung by a bee or bitten by an insect…

When summer arrives, everyone tries to spend as much time as possible outdoors and insect bites increase. Insect stings and bites can be painful, distressing and irritating, but rarely cause serious health problems unless you have an allergic reaction.

Call 112 if you or your child:

  • If you have been bitten or stung and suddenly develop hives, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing, dizziness or fainting
  • Previous history of a serious allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting
  • Bite near the mouth
  • If you are using an EpiPen (an intramuscular epinephrine autoinjector, also known as epinephrine, used as an emergency treatment for severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) caused by allergens), then first inject it – then call an ambulance.
  1. Remove the sting (for bee stings) – best done with a fingernail or a bank card. Never squeeze the stinger, as more venom may enter the bite site, and do not pull on the mouth, as venom may also enter the bite site.
  2. Clean the bite site. Wash the bite or sting with mild soap and water.
  3. Treat the symptoms.

Remove all jewellery near the bite or sting site. It may be difficult to do later when the area is swollen and painful.

Apply ice to the sore area for 5-10 minutes with an ice bag or towel moistened with cold water, then take a 10-minute break. Repeat (do not put the ice directly on the skin – only over a clean cloth)

If the sting was on an arm or leg, lift the limb.

If you’ve been stung by a bee or bitten by an insect… Painkillers such as acetaminophen (paracetamol) or ibuprofen may help). If you administer to a child, be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the bottle or consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Antihistamines can help with swelling and itching. It can be taken orally or applied directly to the sting site. Ask your doctor before taking antihistamines in babies or young children.

Do not scratch the affected area under any circumstances

See a doctor if the bite site develops an abscess, the swelling increases, the redness expands and the body temperature rises.

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