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How To Treat Common Summer Bites and Stings

How To Treat Common Summer Bites and Stings

It’s summer! Out come the picnic blankets and the parasols – but out come the pests as well.

It’s never fun to have your camping trip or beach day interrupted by a nasty bite or sting. But if you’re well-prepared, the risk and inconvenience can be minimal. From the First Aid Manual, here’s how to treat common bites and stings, such as those from bees, wasps and ticks.

1. INSECT STING

Recognition:
Pain at the site of the sting
Redness and swelling around the site of the sting

Your aims:
To relieve swelling and pain
To arrange removal to hospital if necessary

Usually, a sting from a bee, wasp or hornet is painful rather than dangerous. An initial sharp pain is followed by mild swelling, redness and soreness. However, multiple insect stings can produce a serious reaction. A sting in the mouth or throat is potentially dangerous because swelling can obstruct the airway. With any bite or sting, it is important to watch for signs of an allergic reaction, which can lead to anaphylactic shock.

What to do:

1. Reassure the casualty. If the sting is visible, brush or scrape it off sideways with the edge of a credit card or your fingernail. Do not use tweezers because you could squeeze the sting and inject more poison into the casualty.

2. Raise the affected part and apply a cold compress such as an ice pack to minimise swelling. Advise the casualty to keep the compress in place for at least ten minutes. Tell her to seek medical advice if the pain and swelling persist.

3. Monitor vital signs – breathing, pulse and level of response. Watch for signs of an allergic reaction, such as wheezing and/or reddened, swollen, itchy skin.

2. TICK BITE

Your aim:
To remove the tick

Ticks are tiny, spider-like creatures found in grass or woodlands. They attach themselves to passing animals (including humans) and bite into the skin to suck blood. When sucking blood, a tick can swell to about the size of a pea, and it can then be seen easily. Ticks can carry disease, so they should be removed as soon as possible.

What to do:

1. Using tweezers, grasp the tick’s head as close to the casualty’s skin as you can. Gently pull the head upwards using steady, even pressure. Do not jerk the tick as this may leave the mouth parts embedded, or cause it to regurgitate infective fluids into the skin (Do not try to remove the tick with butter or petroleum jelly or burn or freeze it, for the same reason).

2. Save the tick for identification; place it in a sealed plastic bag and give it to the casualty. The casualty should seek medical advice; tell him to take the tick with him since it may be required for analysis. 

3. OTHER BITES AND STINGS

Scorpion stings as well as bites from some spiders and mosquitoes can cause serious illness, and may be fatal. Bites or stings in the mouth or throat are potentially dangerous because swelling can obstruct the airway. Be alert to an allergic reaction, which may lead the casualty to suffer anaphylactic shock.

Recognition:
Depends on the species, but generally:
Pain, redness and swelling at site of sting
Nausea and vomiting
Headache

Your aims:
To relieve pain and swelling
To arrange removal to hospital if necessary

What to do:

1. Reassure the casualty and help her to sit or lie down. 

2. Raise the affected part if possible. Place a cold compress such as an ice pack on the affected area for at least ten minutes to minimise the risk of swelling.

3. Monitor vital signs – breathing, pulse and level of response. Watch for signs of an allergic reaction, such as wheezing and/or reddened, swollen, itchy skin.

 

 

The First Aid Manual is the UK's only fully authorised first aid guide, endorsed by St John Ambulance, St Andrew's First Aid and the British Red Cross and packed with step-by-step first aid advice. Used as the official training manual for the UK's leading first aid organisations' courses, the bestselling First Aid Manual covers all aspects of first aid, from emergency first aid and first aid for babies and children, to the latest guidelines on resuscitation, helping a drowning casualty, and snake bites.

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