Insect Bites

Got an insect bite? The complaints result from injecting of substances or venom of an insect. This leads to a cascade of reactions, known as an allergy in the skin; it can also be severe to the extent that the reaction takes place in other organs. How one reacts also depends on one’s sensitivity to the substances and whether one has been exposed to these substances before or not.

Mostly these reactions are immediate it can be mild and local causing itchiness, redness, pain and swelling, that disappears in one or two days.  Sometimes a delayed reaction may occur, causing fever, swollen glands and complaints of joint pain. Rarely one may develop severe systemic reactions called “Anaphylaxis” the complaints are then swelling of face and throat, nausea, breathing difficulties, abdominal pain and collapse due to hypotension.

The serious bites are those from scorpions. In second place are bites of wasps, hornets, bees, yellow jackets and fire ants. In third place are mosquitoes, ticks and biting flies.

What can you do if a mild reaction occurs?

  • Try to immediately avoid the place where you were exposed to the cause.
  • Remove the stinger immediately.
  • Wash the area with water and soap.
  • Apply a cold compressor.
  • Take or apply a safe pain reliever.
  • Seek a physician’s advice immediately if you get gastrointestinal complaints or a swelling of a diameter of about 10 cm or more.

What can you do if the reaction is severe?

  • Progressive deterioration of symptoms.
  • Seek medical emergency assistance if you experience breathing difficulties, facial /tongue/throat swelling, changes in alertness and palpitations.
  • While waiting for emergency help and you are a witness, check if the person has medications/ injections by him/her such as an autoinjector of epinephrine.
  • If this is the case give it as follows, administer the drug as directed.
    • Pressing the autoinjector against the person’s thigh for 10 seconds.
    • Inject and then massage the injection site for another 10 seconds.
  • In case of tight clothing loosen them, cover the person, do not offer drink/food, lay person on their side, start CPR if there are no signs of circulation.
  • We always advise to follow CPR and first aid courses!


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