Outdoor fun can lead to harmful insect stings

Published 5:25 pm Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer time brings lots of outdoors activities — camping, cook-outs, gardening and time spent in the park, just to name a few. However, time outdoors also increases your chances of insect bites and stings.

Most insects do not usually attack humans unless they are provoked. Many bites and stings are defensive.

Insects sting to protect their hives or nests or when incidentally touched or disturbed (so hives and nests should not be disturbed or approached).

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A sting or bite injects venom composed of proteins and other substances that may trigger an allergic reaction in the victim. The sting also causes redness and swelling at the site of the sting.

Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants are members of the Hymenoptera family. Bites or stings from these species may cause serious reactions in people who are allergic to them. Death from bee stings is three to four times more common than death from snake bites.

Bees, wasps and fire ants differ in how they inflict injury. For example, bees inject their entire stinger and actually die in the process. Wasp can inflict multiple stings because it does not lose it stinger, and fire ants inject their venom by using the biting part of their jar (their mandibles).

Other types of insects or bugs that bite for a blood meal and possible transmit diseases are lice, flies, ticks, chiggers, mites and spiders

When you or someone you know has been bitten or stung by an insect, here are some steps to follow:

4 Call the doctor if your child has been bitten or stung near the mouth or if the area seems to be getting larger or redder or is oozing, which is a sign of infection.

4 Move to a safe area to avoid stings

4 Remove the Stinger (for bee Stings)

Honeybees are the only insects that leave a stinger in the skin. Scrape the area with a fingernail or credit card to remove it.

Don’t pinch the stinger with your fingers or tweezers. That can inject more venom.

4 Clean the Area

Wash the bite or sting with mild soap and water.

4 Treat Symptoms

Remove any tight jewelry from the area of the bite or sting. It could be hard to get off once the area swells.

Ice the area for 10 minutes and then remove the ice for 10 minutes. Then repeat.

If the sting was on an arm or leg, elevate the area.

Pain relievers that are formulated for babies or children, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can help. Be sure to follow the dosing instructions on the bottle.

If your child is under the recommended age, call a pediatrician.

An antihistamine formulated for children may help with swelling and itch. Call a pediatrician before using an antihistamine in infants or toddlers.

Apply a mixture of baking soda and water or calamine lotion for itch.

If you are allergic follow your doctor’s recommendations.

For severe reactions, which affects more than just the site of the insect bite and may progress rapidly, call 911 or emergency medical assistance if the following signs or symptoms occurs: difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips or throat, faintness, dizziness, confusion, hives, rapid heartbeat, nausea, cramps and vomiting.

Also, check for medications that the person may be carrying to treat allergic attacks, such as an auto-injector or epinephrine (EpiPen, Twinject).

Administer the drug as directed. Loosen tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket; don’t give anything to drink; turn person on their side to prevent choking if vomiting or bleeding from the mouth; and begin CPR if there are no signs of circulation, such as breathing, coughing or movement.