Despite all they do for our environment, we rarely have a personal interaction with an insect that we look back on fondly. Part of being outside is knowing that we might have a run in with a stinger or pair of pincers that ends leaving us itchy and red. Of all these unfortunate experiences, bee stings and mosquito bites are among the most common. Here is some guidance for when one of those flying, buzzing, little predators chooses you!
The first thing you should do after being stung by a bee is remove the stinger. The longer the stinger remains in the skin the more venom is injected. You may have heard that how you remove the stinger is important. However, studies have shown that your first priority should be removing the stinger, and that whichever method you choose (whether it be scraping, pulling or squeezing) will have the same relieving effect.
It is normal to experience redness, swelling and pain at the site of the sting for a few days after its occurrence. It can also remain itchy for a couple of weeks until it has completely healed. Bee venom has a high level of acidity. A lot of the quick fixes for a bee sting include topical treatments meant to neutralize the sting. However, since the venom has been injected under the skin (through a very, very small opening) these treatments will have less effect than you’d hope. Instead try icing the sting immediately after to reduce swelling, and taking a painkiller to reduce discomfort. For itchiness try an antihistamine.
If you exhibit any of the following symptoms you could be suffering from an allergic reaction and should immediately seek emergency treatment:
- Swelling of the throat, tongue or mouth.
- Trouble breathing properly.
- Feeling faint.
- Red hives that extend past the site of the sting.
You might not feel it until you have three, but you are probably familiar with the itch and sting of a mosquito bite. The characteristic white bump, that later turns into a red bump, the persistent torturous itching. Your best bet in combatting these obnoxious in combatting the bites of these pests is preventing them. Once a mosquito has bitten you there is little you can do other than avoid scratching it. Scratching at a mosquito bite can cause it to scar, break the skin and expose you to infection or just cause further irritation. You can try rubbing a small dab of numbing cream on the bite to relieve the itching, or numbing it yourself by applying an ice cube for a few minutes.
Sometimes younger children, because they have had less exposure to the antigens found in the saliva of mosquitos, can experience a more severe reaction to a bite known as Skeeter Syndrome. Listed below are some of the symptoms associated with this reaction:
- Bruising at the site of the bite.
- Severe swelling.
Skeeter Syndrome is often treated with an anti-allergy medication and ice. Those known to have more severe reactions to mosquito saliva should make a pointed effort to prevent getting bitten. An insect repellant coupled with a specially scented candle can help protect you.
No matter what sort of insect bite or sting you are experiencing, if anything about the experience is particularly painful, or doesn’t appear to be healing, speak with your doctor or dermatologist about professional treatment.
Dr. Scott Darling of KC Healthy Skin and Vein Center knows that healthy skin means protecting it from the whims of the environment and its inhabitants. Bug spray, everyone!