Treating Insect Bites
Learn how to treat a bite or sting! When an insect bites or stings the harm that is done can vary.
When an insect bites or stings the harm that is done can vary. In most cases a sting will cause no more than a day of some pain or itching. But in more serious cases it may inject painful poisons or stimulate a severe allergic reaction. Some stings and bites even carry serious diseases, so the treatment will depend on the insect or on the reaction of the individual to the bite or sting.
Although all spiders inject venom when the bite there are few that produce it in a sufficient strength to truly injure a person. But in the case of a brown recluse or black widow, an untreated bite can be fatal. Tarantulas look like vicious spiders but in truth their bite is not in itself serious even though it is known to introduce a bacteria into the victim's system. To the untrained eye many spiders look very similar and a person who has been bitten feels it is of the utmost importance to identify the culprit. In reality it is more important to attend to the bite than it is to identify the spider. Anytime a bite is extremely painful, swollen or red you should assume that it is dangerous. In cases where vomiting, sweating, nausea, muscle cramps, joint pain, fever, breathing difficulty or chills develop, the person who has been bitten should seek immediate medical help. The best action to take in this situation is to keep the bite lower than the heart, apply ice or a cold compress while on your way to the emergency room. You can also apply a paste of baking soda and water to ease the pain.
Bee, ant, wasp and hornet stings are only dangerous to a person who is allergic to the sting or when the stings are multiple. The first thing to remember is get to a medical facility. Do not remove the stinger from the wound since in most cases this will release more poison into the wound. Honey bees are the only stinging insect that leaves behind a stinger that will continue pumping venom into a wound. If the victim shows signs of swelling beyond the sting site, faintness or difficulty breathing, they are having an allergic reaction. If the victim is wearing an identification tag that tells you they are allergic, look for a kit with antihistamine pills, a syringe loaded with epinephrine and the instructions on how to use these items. Other wise you should get the victim immediate emergency help. In any case, when a person develops more than a local reaction to any type of insect sting they should see their doctor.
Signs of wheezing, hives or swelling that starts at the bite and puffs up a large area are warning signs of a reaction to the venom.
When the stings are not life threatening a baking soda bath will relieve the itching. To make your baking soda bath use 4 tablespoons of baking soda per gallon of water. Be careful not to scratch the wound since this opens it up to bacteria. If the itching is caused by mosquitoes, horseflies, deerflies or blackflies, the bites should be washed with soap and cold water before applying the tobacco or meat tenderizer.