Bites and stings

Bites & Stings – Where Should I go?

Summer is a fun time to be out and about but unfortunately, insects love it too. Insect bites and stings can be miserable, especially if they happen to children, but with the right self-care and treatment you can help ease the pain and swelling and carry on enjoying your summer.

Types of insect bites and stings

There are many different types of insects that can bite and sting including wasps, bees, hornets, horseflies, fleas, spiders, midges and mosquitoes. Some people might find that they are more prone to bites than others, whereas stings tend to occur when an insect feels threatened and use a sting as their defence. Often you won’t know if you’re in danger of being bitten or stung until it’s already happened, which is when you’ll need to start treating it.

It’s difficult to avoid insect bites and stings but you can take some precautions, particularly if you’re in a hot country where mosquitoes and other insects are more common. Cover up arms and legs with loose clothing and spray yourself with insect repellent – something which you should get into the habit of using regularly. Avoid swatting away at bees, wasps and hornets as they may decide to react aggressively and if you are walking in areas of woodland – make sure you cover up to avoid tick bites. Dogs and cats can also bring in fleas and ticks, and you should check them over regularly and give them preventative treatment to help both you and them stay pest-free.

Insect bite or sting symptoms

You might first notice insect bites and stings when they begin to itch or cause pain. Inspecting the area will usually show a red bump that might make the area around it swollen too.

Mosquito bites and wasp stings might occur in more than one area, while a spider or horsefly bite might be more isolated. You might suffer a mild allergic reaction to a bit or sting, which will cause parts of your body to become swollen, but this will ease.

Treating insect bites and stings

If you start experiencing more severe symptoms such as dizziness, difficult breathing or your face/mouth starts becoming swollen – you should seek urgent medical attention and call 999.

If you suffer a mild allergic reaction to the bite/sting, you should make a visit to your pharmacist who could recommend some antihistamines, creams and painkillers that will help you manage your symptoms, or call 111 for help and advice instead.

When to visit your doctor

You should only visit your doctor or A&E in an emergency. If the bite or sting isn’t healing or it continues to swell, you are stung in your mouth or throat and the bite starts becoming more painful, you should call 111 out of hours or contact your local GP surgery during the week.

Call 999 in cases of a severe reaction to a bite or sting, such as breathing difficulties, nausea, dizziness and losing consciousness. If you are on holiday in areas that you know have venomous insects, you should seek local medical attention immediately and try to identify what it was that bit/stung you.

Insect bites are a nuisance, but you shouldn’t let them spoil your summer. Cover up and use preventative measures and you can help to avoid insect bites and stings as much as possible. Always keep a supply of bite and sting treatments in your first aid kit to be able to provide immediate treatment and relief should the bite occur.