Insect bites & stings

Original Post on APN By Janet, author of itsadisaster

Basic first aid tips for insect bites & stings

Things to watch for…

Stinger (Note: honeybees leave a stinger and venom sac)
Puncture or bite mark
Burning pain or Swelling
Allergic Reaction – Pain, itching, hives, redness or discoloration at site, trouble breathing, signs of shock (pale, cold, drowsy, etc.)

If a mosquito bite – watch for signs of West Nile Virus (most symptoms appear 2 to 15 days after being bitten) … Mild flu-like symptoms – fever, headache & body aches, Mild skin rash and swollen lymph glands, or Severe symptoms – severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, confusion, shakes, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, meningitis or encephalitis

What to do…

– Move quickly and calmly away from area if there’s a swarm or nest nearby.
– Remove stinger by scraping it away with credit card, long fingernail or using tweezers. Don’t try to squeeze it out since this causes more venom to get in the victim.
– Wash wound with soap and water or rinse with hydrogen peroxide.
– Cover with a bandage or clean cloth and apply ice pack.
– Watch for allergic reactions for a few days (see above).
– Call Fire Department or bee removal expert if needed.

To relieve pain from an insect bite or sting:

Activated charcoal – Make a paste using 2-3 capsules and a small amount of warm water. Dab paste on sting site and cover with gauze or plastic to keep it moist. This will help draw out venom so it collects on your skin. Note, powder makes a black mess but easily wiped off with a towel.

Baking Soda – Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda + 1 part warm water and apply to the sting site for 15-20 minutes.

Clay mudpack – If in the wilderness, put a mudpack over injury and cover with bandage or cloth. The mudpack must be a mix of clay-containing soil since clay is the key element but don’t use if any skin is cracked or broken.

Meat tenderizer – Mixing meat tenderizer (check ingredient list for “papain”) with warm water and applying to the sting will help break down insect venom. (Papain is a natural enzyme derived from papaya.)

Urine (Pee) – Another remedy useful in the wilderness sounds totally gross (but has a history of medical applications in a number of cultures) is urine (pee) which reduces the stinging pain. (Unless you have a urinary tract infection, the pee will be sterile and at the least won’t do any harm.)

Some potential pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory remedies:

fresh aloe – break open a leaf or use 96-100% pure aloe gel
lemon juice – from a fresh lemon
vitamin E – oil from a bottle or break open a few gel capsules
store brands – if over-the-counter methods preferred, use calamine cream or lotion and aspirin or acetaminophen

Things to do to avoid mosquito bites …

– Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and early evenings when mosquitoes are most active.
– Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
– Spray clothing and exposed skin with repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) – the higher % of DEET, the longer you’re protected from bites (6.65% lasts almost 2 hours; 20% lasts about 4 hours, etc.) Two other repellents are picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
– Don’t put repellent on small children’s hands since it may irritate their mouths or eyes.
– Get rid of “standing water” sources around yard and home since they are breeding grounds for skeeters.
– The CDC says Vitamin B and “ultrasonic” devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites!

Above extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! book (proceeds benefit APN)
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