With the arrival of warmer weather, Pittsburghers will find themselves exposed to stings and bites as we engage in more outdoor activities. Fortunately, there are home measures that can successfully treat the vast majority of these injuries.
What to Do After a Sting or a Bite
For those patients who have serious allergic reactions to the stings of bees, wasps and other insect bites, [trouble speaking or swallowing, difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, etc.] 911 should be called immediately.
For those with less serious sting and bite symptoms, the following actions can be taken:
- Wash the area with soap and water to lessen the chance of infection.
- Apply a cold pack to the site of the sting or bite. This will help reduce inflammation.
- Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (e.g., Benadryl®) can be taken to lessen the itch-causing effects of histamine
- Patients should observe the stung/bitten skin in the days following the injury for increasing redness, pain, and red streaking. This may represent an infection needing medical evaluation to determine the need for antibiotics. Happily, most stings do NOT get infected.
- Patients with SERIOUS allergic reactions to sting and insect bites as described above should call 911 or proceed to the nearest Emergency Room. If such patients have an EpiPen® in their possession, they should use it!
Ticks and Lyme Disease
Tick bites are a topic of special interest, as the incidence of Lyme Disease appears to be increasing in our area. The mainstay of treatment for tick bites is prevention, but there are other measures one can take even if bitten to avoid progression to Lyme Disease.
- Wear full length clothing to cover exposed skin when in wooded or grassy areas.
- Check for ticks after being outside, and brush them off if they are not attached
- Should you find an attached tick, you may remove it with commercially available tick removers, or simply apply gentle traction with tweezers for up to 90 seconds. The tick will get ‘tired’ and release. Wash the area immediately.
- While it is believed that ticks attached for less than 24 hours rarely transmit the germ that causes Lyme, it is important following the removal of a tick to observe for the following signs which should prompt medical care: expanding circular rash near the bite, redness and pain, fever, headache, joint aches, or any other concerning symptom.