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Treating Insect Bites

Allergy, Immune | November 14, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Immune, allergy

Treating Insect Bites

Spring and summer seasons are a wonderful time of the year when we see the weather warming up and plants in the garden turning green and blooming. The lovely weather and atmosphere draw families outside for enjoyable gardening chores and play. Unfortunately, this gives greater opportunity to receive an unwanted sting from an annoyed insect. Whether it be a sting from a bee, wasp, mosquito, or maybe some other unidentified gnat – the results are the same – pain and irritation. But there are some quick and easy ways to get relief from common insect stings. 

What happens when we are stung

What happens when we are stungWhen an insect stings you, it injects you with venom or proteins from its saliva. Once a sting is received the body elicits an immune system response. This is seen as swelling, redness, heat, pain and sometimes intense itching. Some people may experience a systemic reaction or a large local reaction due to insect allergy and must take permanent measures to avoid further allergen contact. In this case they should be prepared in case of anaphylaxis and may need specific immunotherapy from the doctor or may need to carry a adrenaline auto-injector device such as EpiPen®. - A device that contains a fixed dose of adrenaline able to be administered by a non-medical person, adrenaline is the first line treatment for anaphylaxis.

An allergy is an over-reaction by the immune system to an otherwise harmless substance.

Symptoms

  • pain
  • swelling of the bite or sting area
  • change of colour of the affected area

More serious symptoms might include:

  • numbness or ‘pins and needles’
  • nausea or vomiting
  • headache
  • blurred or double vision
  • muscle weakness or paralysis
  • breathing difficulty

How to avoid being stung

How to avoid being stungThere are a number of ways to protect yourself and your family from being stung. Firstly, bee educated and ensure little folk know what not to touch or go near. Cover up so there is less skin exposed. You can use an insect repellent when insects like mosquitos are unavoidable.

Products used need to be “age appropriate” and can be heavy duty or contain more gentle, natural ingredients such as tea tree (melaleuca), eucalyptus or citronella oils.
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Bee prepared

In the event of an insect sting it is important to have an action plan available and first aid supplies. A cold pack in the freezer or chemical cold pack is one of the best “first aid” available. According to St Johns Organisation, apply a cold pack for:

  • red-back spider 
  • bee sting
  • wasp sting
  • ant sting
  • tick bite
  • scorpion or centipede sting

COLD PACK Application:  Apply to bitten or stung area for 15 minutes and reapply if pain continues. Use a new cold pack to keep coldness consistant. Seek medical help if symptoms worsen or for certain bites such as poisonous spiders and snakes. 
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In a medical emergency always call 000, and remember First Aid Action Plan includes:DRSABCD = Danger – Response - Send for help – Airway - Breathing - CPR – Defibrillation

Bee Stings 

The stinging barb of the bee is attached to a venom sack and will continue to pump venom even after the bee has gone so it is important to removed as soon as possible in whatever way you can. 

How to avoid being stungWasps

Wasps will inflict multiple stings which increases the amount of venom injected.

Mosquitoes

Mosquito stings can be very annoying and very common in summer but will rarely cause an allergic reaction. More concerning can be diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as Ross River fever. Seek medical help if you develop fever, muscle aches, joint stiffness, fatigue and generally feel unwell.

A medical emergency can occur if a person suffers from an allergic reaction or if stings occur around the
airways - obstructing breathing.

How you can help

Other arsenal in the First Aid pack may include products to help stop the intense itching, settle inflammation and help prevent further reaction. These may come in a spray, gel or cream and can be applied regularly till symptoms reside. They may contain an anaesthetising ingredient that help to provides fast pain relief, antibacterial components to discourage infection and be anti-inflammatory.

One ingredient, aluminium sulfate, works by inactivating the venom found in a range of stings and bites. It does this by interacting with proteins and long-chain polysaccharide components of the venom.
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Most will be suitable for any insect or plant irritation such as mosquitoes, wasps, bees, sand flies, ants and sea lice, and even helpful when you are inadvertently attacked by vines and nettles in the garden.

 

Summing up

  • Keep alert for stinging insects
  • Cover up
  • Use an insect repellant 
  • Have ice packs handy for immediate first aid
  • On-going treatment products for contined relief
  • Seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or allergy to insect

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References

Insect Stings https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3334720/

https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/about-allergy/anaphylaxis

https://allergyfacts.org.au/allergy-anaphylaxis/what-is-anaphylaxis

Chemical and Plant-Based Insect Repellents: Efficacy, Safety, and Toxicity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26827259

https://allergyfacts.org.au/allergy-anaphylaxis

Personal Protection Measures Against Mosquitoes, Ticks, and Other Arthropods. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26900115

A review of recommendations on the safe and effective use of topical mosquito repellents. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27997936

https://stjohn.org.au/assets/uploads/fact%20sheets/english/FS_bites%20and%20stings%20quick%20guide.pdf

https://www.stjohn.org.nz/First-Aid/First-Aid-Library/Bites-and-Stings/

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/insect-bites-and-stings

Stingose. A new and effective treatment for bites and stings https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7421683

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/medicines/brand/amt,929849011000036108/soov-bite

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