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Insect Bites Treatment

It is common for most of us to get bitten or stung by insects especially during the summer months and usually most bites and stings produce just a mild reaction. They bring momentary alarm, temporary discomfort and pain without any serious or lasting health problems. Home treatment is often all that is needed to relieve mild symptoms from a bite or sting. Occasionally, insect bites and stings can cause infections, that require treatment, or allergic reactions that can be serious or even fatal.

Here are some of the more common insects (and even some rarer ones) you can expect to encounter:

o Mosquito bites usually cause red, itchy bumps varying in size and often with a raised center.
o Bedbug bites are painless but become very itchy. They only feed about once a week and then only at night. They can be difficult to detect.
o Chiggers or harvest mites are common in the southern US grassy and bushy areas and often bite children. The bites usually appear on the legs and round the waist. They are small red bumps and can be very itchy. People often confuse them with chickenpox.
o Flea bites often appear as multiple groupings of red bumps. There can be a central area of crusting.
o Honey bees leave a barbed stinger in the flesh when they sting and then die. This stinger will appear as a black dot inside the bite if it has been left behind and needs to be removed. A serious local reaction can be the swelling up of the area affected. The more aggressive Africanized bees can attack together in the large numbers and this is the danger.
o Wasps, yellow jackets and hornets cause painful red bumps when they sting and unfortunately they can sting over and over.
o Fire ants can be a real problem especially in Texas and are well known for causing severe local reactions. They mostly bite on the feet and legs but many times. In the case of children such a large number of bites can be quite serious and may well need medical attention. The fire ant attaches to its victim by biting with its jaws and then while pivoting its head, it stings from its stomach in a circular pattern.
o Many fear the bite of a spider. The ones that can cause a toxic reaction are the black widow spider, the brown recluse spider and the Hobo spider. The first two are poisonous and can be readily identified – the black widow by the red or orange hour glass shape on the abdomen and the brown recluse by the violin shaped markings on the back. The bites are fortunately usually painless or cause a mild reaction. If there is going to be a severe reaction, then this will happen quickly (within a couple of hours) and such symptoms could include sweating, sickness and vomiting, headache, high blood pressure and muscle pain.
o Tick bites can occur if you have been in wooded areas.
o Scorpions can cause a toxic reaction from a single sting

Signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting are:

o Wheezing or trouble breathing.
o Tightness in the throat or chest.
o Vomiting.
o Dizziness or fainting.
o Sleepiness or confusion possibly indicated by shock.
o Rapid heartbeat.
o Swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat.
o A bee sting anywhere in the mouth warrants immediate medical attention because stings in oral mucous membranes can quickly cause severe swelling that may block airways.
o A large skin rash or swelling around a sting site or if swelling or pain persists for more than 3 days.

If such signs and symptoms are severe, you should call an ambulance or go to the emergency room.

Tips on how to treat bee and wasp stings:

o Remove the bee’s stinger, which is attached to a venom sac, as quickly as possible by scraping it away with a sharp fingernail or credit card edge. Be careful not cut the skin or crush the stinger. Wasps don’t leave behind a stinger so can sting more than once.
o Wash the area carefully with soap and water 2 or 3 times a day until the skin is healed.
o A baking soda paste can be applied for 20 minutes or an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or a cold wet wash cloth for a few minutes. A corticosteroid cream or calamine lotion can be applied to the sting area.
o Give a suitable pain reliever.
o An over the counter antihistamine is a good idea if you don’t know what the reaction will be.

Tips on how to treat spider bites:

o Wash the area carefully with soap and water 2 or 3 times per day until the skin is healed.
o Apply cool compresses.
o Give a suitable pain reliever.
o To protect against infection, apply an antibiotic ointment and keep the hands clean.
o If you suspect the bite has been caused by a black widow or brown recluse spider as described above, get immediate medical attention even if no symptoms are apparent.

Tips on how to treat tick bites:

o If you find a tick on you or your child, use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth next to the skin.
o Pull firmly and steadily on the tick until it lets go, then swab the bite site with alcohol.
o Put it in a jar of alcohol to kill it and also to show to your doctor if necessary.
o Never use petroleum jelly or a lit match to kill and remove a tick.

If you are at all concerned about an insect bite or sting (particularly in the case of children) seek medical attention to put your mind at rest