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First Aid Treatment for Insect Bites and Stings

Insect bites and stings can introduce venom into your body, causing pain, swelling and in some cases, a severe allergic reaction. Depending on the person’s sensitivities, an allergic reaction from an insect sting or bite could be life threatening. For mild and severe reactions, there are a few first aid treatments that you can administer to ease the symptoms and prevent asphyxiation.

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First Aid Items You’ll Need for Insect Stings and Bites:

Rescue One First Aid Kit

  • Tweezers
  • Antihistamine pills
  • Cold pack
  • Towel
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Epinephrine (EpiPen) or other emergency allergy medications
  • CPR mask

Mild reactions don’t usually require medical attention, though they can cause swelling and pain. For these cases, first move to a safe area away from the insects to avoid receiving more stings or bites. Next, remove the stinger if it is stuck in your skin. Gently remove them with tweezers, being careful not to squeeze too hard, as this may release more venom. Next, wash the area with soap and water. To reduce the swelling, apply a cold pack wrapped in cloth. Afterwards, you can apply Hydrocortisone cream to the area several times a day to reduce itching. Taking an antihistamine orally may also help.

If you experience intestinal cramps, nausea, diarrhea or swelling larger than 2 inches in diameter, seek medical help.

For those who have severe, acute reactions to insect stings or bites, first call 911 if you notice that they have difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips or throat, dizziness, faintness, confusion, hives, nausea, cramps or vomiting or hives . While waiting for help to arrive, ask them if they have any emergency medications (or check their purse of bag, if they are unable to respond). Look for an auto-injector, such as an EpiPen (epinephrine). Follow the instructions to administer the treatment. Most auto-injectors work by holding it against the skin for several seconds, and then removing the injector. Massage the area for about 10 seconds to enhance absorption.

Give the person an anti-histamine pill if they can do so without choking. Then, have them lie still on their back with their feet higher than their head. Loosen tight clothing and cover them with a blanket, but do not give them anything to drink. If the person loses consciousness and has no signs of circulation (breathing, coughing or movement) then administer CPR.

If someone in your family carries an auto-injector, make sure that everyone in the household is familiar with how to use it ahead of time. Keep the person comfortable while help arrives and always administer CPR before calling 911, or send someone else to call 911 for you.