Insect bites and stings are not uncommon in the community and usually cause minor irritation only. They are harmless and may feel unpleasant. They often lead to redness, swelling and itch in the affected area. Mosquito, flea and mite bites usually itch, while bee, wasp and hornet stings and ant bites usually cause pain. Sometimes, diseases can also be transmitted from insect bites, such as West Nile virus yellow fever, malaria and dengue.
There are many ways to avoid insect bites and their effects, such as not bothering them, wearing protective clothing, using insect repellants, eating outside and carrying an epinephrine kit when one has severe allergic reaction to insect bites.
When saliva is released from an insect bite, it causes the skin around the bite to become red, swollen and itchy. Oftentimes, the venom from the sting also causes the same symptoms except there forms a red mark (a weal) on the skin. Although it may be painful, it is almost usually harmless. Nevertheless, the afflicted area will remain painful and itchy for several days. In most of these cases, these bites and stings may be treated at home using basic first aid.
The advantage of first aid training comes in handy in situations, especially when severe allergic reactions occur. To treat a mild reaction, move the victim a safer area where no more bites or stings can be obtained. Remove the stinger, especially if lodged in the skin. Do not use tweezers as they may release more venom, instead use the fingernails. Clean the affected area using clean water and soap. To reduce pain and swelling, apply a cold pack or cloth filled with ice. Pain reliever may be taken such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease the pain from stings or bites. To provide relief from itch and ease pain, topic cream may be applied. Antihistamine may be taken to ensure that no allergic reactions will take place.
When a person has a severe allergic reaction to these insect bites and stings, this is called anaphylaxis and it can be fatal. Anaphylaxis requires crucial emergency assistance. Some of the signs and symptoms of severe allergic reaction include nausea, facial and throat swelling, abdominal pain, difficulty in breathing and shock or drop in blood pressure and circulation. Moreover, there may also be mild nausea, intestinal cramps and diarrhea.
In cases of anaphylaxis, CPR may be required especially if there is shock. It should be noted that CPR may be applied to many emergency situations and hence, CPR courses are offered in the community for everyone to be ready in cases of emergencies. If there is severe reaction, immediately call for emergency medical services. Check if the victim has medications or treatments for allergic attack, such as autoinjector of epinephrine. If the victim has, assist the victim in press the autoinjector against the thigh of the victim and keep it in place for a few seconds. To enhance absorption, massage the injection site for 10 seconds. Loosen any tight clothing especially around the neck area. Give the person a blanket and do not give any beverage. If there is bleeding from the mouth or vomiting, turn the victim to either side to avoid choking. If no signs of circulation are observed, initiate CPR.