Jul 26, 2011
Dr Jurgita Cekanaviciene explains how to deal with stings and bites this summer.
Insect bites and stings are very common during the summer months. Most will be minor and disappear naturally but they can cause some discomfort, including blisters, irritation and inflammation in the short term.
If you are stung or bitten there a few things you can do to ease the discomfort. Wash the bite with soap and water, cover the area with a cold towel to reduce swelling and try to avoid scratching the bite. If the symptoms are very severe or don’t disappear on their own you might need to visit your local pharmacy or the healthcare centre. Excessive swelling and blistering or pus may indicate a more severe bite or sting or secondary infection.
In some cases, a person might suffer from a more severe reaction called an anaphylactic shock. However, this is very rare and affects just 3 in 100 people*. Symptoms can include hives, itching or swelling on a part of the body that hasn’t been stung, a tight chest, breathing difficulties, a hoarse voice and a swollen tongue. If you think you may be anaphylactic your doctor can arrange a test to confirm your allergy.
If you or someone you know does suffer from a severe reaction or anaphylactic shock, prompt action and treatment is essential. The affected person needs to be injected with adrenaline to counteract the effects of the allergy. Once the injection has been dispensed to the person affected, follow up advice may be necessary and is available by calling NHS direct on 0845 4647 or calling 999 to talk to one of the medical staff.
If you are at risk from suffering from anaphylactic shock, make sure that you wear an identity bracelet or necklace with details of your allergy and the treatment required. Inform family, friends and work colleagues of your allergy and any treatment required. Always carry two adrenaline injections with you that are in date and make sure that somebody knows where they are. The healthcare centre or allergy specialist can prescribe the injections and teach you how to use them.
Here’s some advice on how to help prevent insect bites and stings:
For more information and advice about allergies, including allergy testing, visit www.nhs.uk.
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