Take proper care of insect bites

Pamela Egan Practical Practitioner


By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE



Take proper care of insect bites



Dear Pam,

I was weeding the garden and was stung on my hand by bees. My hand swelled up four times its size. What is the deal with this?

Please review the following information on the proper care of insect bites.

Reactions to insect stings and spider bites are very common. Bee stings are extremely common and potentially harmful. A normal response includes pain, redness, localized swelling, and itching; however, some people have severe allergic reactions that include hives, shortness of breath, facial or tongue swelling, dizziness, and chest pain. Such reactions could be life threatening.

If you are allergic to bee stings, carry an emergency epinephrine kit at all times and know how to use it if you have ever experienced a severe allergic reaction to an insect sting.

To remove the stinger: gently scrape the stinger out of the skin. Avoid squeezing it, because this may release more venom. Once the stinger is removed, wash and apply ice to the area.

Apply a paste of baking soda and water or meat tenderizer and water to the area.

Take an antihistamine such as Benadryl for itching and swelling.

Call 911 or seek emergency medical attention for any of the following symptoms: wheezing, shortness of breath, swelling of the face or tongue, hives, diffuse rash, chest pain, dizziness.

This article was originally published August 22, 2005 in The St. Tammany News.


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