Most insect bites and stings cause nothing more than local problems that are quickly resolved with a series of simple care. In many cases it is not even necessary to apply any drugs.
However, many home remedies aggravate the situation to the point of having to go to the doctor to help reduce complications and cure the bite completely.
The symptoms of most stings and bites
- Local swelling
- Reddening of the skin
- Local Eruption
Mild reactions to insect bites
- Stay away from the place where the insect has stung you (in case it swarms or bites again). For example, wasps have a soft sting that they remove once they are stung. This way, they can bite the same person repeatedly.
- In case you are stung by a bee, the sting is inside because it is saw-shaped. The next step, therefore, will be to remove the sting, preferably with tweezers.
- If a tick is found, remove it with tweezers, being careful not to twist or break the body of the animal. If you cannot do this, see your doctor to do so, as leaving part of the tick in the skin virtually ensures further infection and possibly a granuloma.
- Wash the area of the bite with soap and water.
- Apply it cold, either with a compress soaked in cold water or with a clean cloth (gauze or handkerchief) wrapped in ice.
- If the sting or bite has been on a leg or foot, placing them helps reduce swelling.
- Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen if the pain is severe.
- Apply an antihistamine to relieve itching.
- If swelling gets worse, apply a cortisone cream.
Serious reactions, when to seek medical help
- If the animal that has produced the sting is a scorpion, one should always go to the doctor, since it is foreseeable that the reaction will be, at least, quite painful. This is especially important if the stinger is a child. In our country, there are two species of scorpions that are potentially dangerous to humans: the yellow scorpion and the black scorpion.
- If the sting is from a spider, we must take into account that in Spain there are only three spiders that are dangerous for humans: the black widow, the brown or corner spider and the European tarantula. If you are in doubt about which spider has bitten you, you should go to a doctor.
- If the swelling and redness worsen in the following days, instead of gradually disappearing, you should consult a doctor.
- If the area of the bite becomes hard, or a lump appears under the skin on palpation.
- If there are signs of infection in the wound left by the sting (purulent discharge, pain, severe inflammation…) or there is a fever or fever.
- If there is an inflammatory reaction or hives appear in an area away from the sting.
- If the tongue swells or if the patient begins to have difficulty breathing or wheezes or has asthma.
- If the lips, eyelids, or tongue become swollen.
- If tachycardia or heart rhythm disturbances appear.
- If the patient becomes dizzy, disoriented, vomits or nauseated and/or faints.
What not to do if you are bitten by an insect
Most local remedies not only do not improve the condition of the stings or bites, but can cause more severe reactions or cause secondary infections that require more prolonged and complicated treatments. Thus, it is discouraged:
- Pouring mud on a sting. Although if the mud is cold it can give a sensation of pain relief, the truth is that there are other more hygienic methods to achieve the same effect avoiding the risk of infection of placing a mud poultice on a sting.
- Pouring bleach, vinegar, alcohol or ammonia on jellyfish stings not only does not relieve pain, but it makes it worse, according to scientific evidence.
- Try to remove a tick by burning it or using petroleum jelly. This can cause the animal to sink deeper into the patient’s skin and the reaction is more severe. It will also be harder to remove later.
- Remove a stinger by squeezing the edges of the bite.
- Specialists recommend following these tips on what to do and what not to do in case of an insect bite or sting. When in doubt or if a serious reaction occurs, it is important to consult a health professional so as not to aggravate the area of the sting and to avoid severe complications.