Insect bite in summer? Expert provides answers on care | Healthy Aging

Cara Murez

SATURDAY, July 30, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Bugs are a part of summer, whether you like it or not.

While bug bites are often little more than an annoying inconvenience, some can trigger a medical emergency, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), which offered tips for distinguishing yourself.

“While most insect bites or stings are minor and can be treated at home, some reactions can quickly become serious or life-threatening,” said Dr. Gillian Schmitz, President of ACEP. “It’s important to be aware of any specific symptoms or allergic reactions and to seek emergency care if needed.”

According to ACEP, most people can treat wasp, bee, or hornet stings at home with an ice pack and an over-the-counter remedy for itching, pain, or swelling.

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This applies when the swelling is limited to the area where the needle was injected or there are no signs of a severe allergic reaction. Go to the nearest emergency room if you have trouble breathing, dizziness, or swelling of your face, mouth, lips, or tongue.

Call 911 right away if someone appears to be having anaphylaxis, a serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis can be triggered by insect bites, certain foods, medications, or latex.

Anyone who knows they are at risk, or their parent or guardian, should have injectable epinephrine with them at all times. This should be administered during anaphylaxis if available.

“Preventive measures like applying bug spray or wearing appropriate clothing for outdoor activities can help avoid annoying bites,” Schmitz said. “But knowing when to go to the emergency room can save lives.”

Another worrisome interaction with bugs is having a tick embed itself in your skin. In this case, it is important to remove the tick quickly.

Do not spill chemicals on it or try to remove it by force. Instead, use clean tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible, then pull upwards in one steady motion. Avoid twisting or jerking the tick. If pieces of it break off and remain in the skin, infection can develop.

See a doctor if the tick cannot be removed safely.

Other signs that medical attention is needed include a “bullseye rash” or spots on the palms or soles of the feet, which could indicate a tick-borne illness such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Mosquito bites are often a nuisance that itch rather than hurt. You can treat bites with over-the-counter sprays, creams, or medications to reduce swelling.

However, if you develop persistent flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, headache, body aches, or upset stomach, it could be a sign of a mosquito-borne illness. These include Zika and West Nile viruses.

A mosquito-borne illness can cause neck stiffness, confusion, blurred vision, or other functions related to the brain, nervous system, or spinal cord, so contact an emergency room if you have flu-like symptoms.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on tick bite prevention and removal.

SOURCE: American College of Emergency Physicians, press release, July 20, 2022

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