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Insect stings and Bites

Nothing ruins a picnic or day at the beach more than flying insects buzzing around while you are trying to relax. Annoying, yes! But sometimes they can bite or sting, causing more than a momentary nuisance.

Some insects (mosquitos, flies, ticks) inject a small amount of saliva into the bite area to prevent your blood from clotting as they suck it out.  This can cause itching or even an allergic reaction. If the bite becomes very itchy, swollen, and red, apply ice or a cool compress and a little dab of anti-itch cream to it. If it continues to itch and becomes more swollen, take an anti-histamine such as Benadryl. If the swelling doesn’t decrease in 1 to 2 hours, seek medical attention in the next day. Some people are very allergic to insect and bee stings – if you have any difficulty breathing or break out in hives, seek care immediately.

Any break in the skin can make you more susceptible to infection. If the sing area becomes swollen and red and tender, see a doctor as you may need an antibiotic. If you see a red streak spreading up your leg or arm, from the bite, go to the emergency room as you may need IV antibiotics.

Bee stings can be very painful. Remove the stinger with the edge of a credit card scraped against it. Apply ice to decrease swelling. Take Advil or Tylenol for pain. If hives develop or you feel short of breath or dizzy, seek medical care immediately. Remember, you can prevent most of these problems by using insect repellant or protective clothing.

Dr. Rosemary Pomponio