Insect stings: Emergency first aid
Wasps and bees can become a real nuisance in summer. People with allergies must be extra careful. How do I treat an insect sting and when should I see a doctor?
What are the symptoms of an insect sting?
Most insect stings cause harmless swelling or itchy redness that go away on their own. The person should avoid scratching the irritated area of skin, because this will only make the itch worse and can even lead to blood poisoning.
What helps with an insect sting?
Follow these recommendations if you have an insect sting:
- Remove the stinger without crushing it (otherwise, more poison may be released into the body).
- Apply cold to the spot (with cold compresses, ice cubes or cold water).
- Apply special insect bite creams from your pharmacy. These have a cooling, anti-inflammatory effect.
- Elevate the affected body part and leave it alone.
You can only treat insect stings yourself if you do not have any insect allergies or with allergy medicines prescribed by your doctor and taking them as directed.
When is an insect sting dangerous?
If the swelling or redness becomes inflamed or bleeds, you should see a doctor.
An insect sting can be life-threatening for people with allergies. If you belong to this risk group, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible and have them prescribe you the necessary emergency medication, such as an adrenaline shot.
Symptoms in people with allergies
Immediately call an emergency doctor if you experience the follow symptoms after being stung by an insect:
- Feeling unwell, dizziness
- Swelling in the face and mouth
- Skin rash/itching all over your body
- Trouble breathing/respiratory distress
- Seizure/loss of consciousness
How people accompanying allergy sufferers should respond
When a person with an allergy has an allergic reaction, they often have to depend on the people around them. Ideally, you should let the people around you know about your allergy ahead of time and what they should do immediately in the event of an emergency.
First aid for allergic reactions to insect stings
If a person has an allergic reaction, doing the following can help:
- Remove the stinger
- Call an emergency doctor and take any emergency medications if available
- Remove tight clothing
- Check vital signs at regular intervals (if no vital signs: start resuscitation)
- For respiratory distress: sitting upright
- For shock symptoms: shock position
- If unconscious: recovery position (on the person’s side)