Bites & Stings
Spending time outdoors often leads to bug bites or encounters with stinging insects. Bites and stings do not usually cause an emergency situation, but in people with allergies, it’s important to be prepared. The first aid tips you use will depend on the type of insect and the severity of the bite or sting.
Remove the bee stinger as soon as possible. Wasps do not leave a stinger in the skin, so there’s nothing to remove in cases of wasp stings. Wash the affected area with water and mild soap. Repeat the washing two or three times each day, as recommended by the Nemours Foundation. Reduce swelling by applying a cold washcloth or ice pack to the skin. Seek medical attention for stings inside the mouth, as they can swell and block the airway. Get emergency medical attention if signs of a life-threatening allergic reaction occur. These signs include fainting, difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue, dizziness and tightness in the chest.
Most spider bites do not cause serious damage, with two exceptions. In the United States, black widow and brown recluse spiders have venom that causes serious problems. Without treatment, a bite from one of these spiders can cause death. For other spider bites, wash the bite with soap and water and apply a cool compress to relieve swelling. If the bite produces pain, administer acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Prevent infection by applying antibiotic ointment to the bite. If you suspect a black widow or brown recluse spider bite, seek emergency medical attention.
Ticks feed on the blood of humans or animals, so they attach themselves to the skin. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, or have pets that go outdoors, check your skin for ticks regularly. If you find a tick that has attached, use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick’s head and pull firmly until the tick lets go. Wipe the bite with an alcohol pad to prevent infection. Because some ticks carry Lyme disease, your doctor may want you to save the tick for identification purposes.