Tips to deal with insect stings

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With the start of summer comes the appearance of common stinging insects, such as bees, wasps, hornets and yellowjackets, and the various related health risks that range from irritating but relatively harmless stings to the threat of serious allergic reaction. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) stresses that when it comes to stinging insects, the best way to avoid the associated health risks is to practice simple prevention and treatment tips.    

"It's important to understand what we can do to mitigate the health problems these stinging insects present," said Dr. Jorge Parada, medical spokesperson for the NPMA. "For most people, painful stings typically result in swelling and local soreness, but 3 percent of the population experience more widespread allergic reactions, like rashes and hives, and extreme cases can result in life threatening symptoms like shortness of breath."

Stinging insects are beneficial in that they pollinate plants and flowers and eat other harmful pests, but they also dole out painful stings and cause people anxiety about being stung. While in reality, bees and yellowjackets rarely sting unless provoked, more aggressive species like wasps can sting in painful attacks if they feel threatened.

The NPMA offers the following tips when dealing with stinging insects:

  • If one lands on your skin, resist the urge to swat and instead gently blow on it from a distance.
  • If stung, remove the stinger, clean the area with soap and cold water and apply ice. Benadryl and hydrocortisone ointment may also help calm the reaction.
  • Should you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as tongue and throat swelling, wheezing, dizziness, shortness of breath or drop in blood pressure, call 911.
  • If allergic to stinging insects, learn how to use an epinephrine kit and carry it with you at all times.
  • If you suspect an infestation or notice a hive or nest on your property, contact a licensed pest professional to safely remove the threat.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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