Don’t Let Insect Bites or Stings Ruin Your Summer

17 August 2020 12:18pm

Enjoying the great outdoors can also mean dealing with insect bites or stings. Health professionals at Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are sharing self-care tips for treating them easily at home.

Figures show that compared to last year, 30 per cent more people are using self-care treatments to deal with bites and stings, instead of going to A&E*. This is helping to keep A&E attendances for those that need it most.

Top tips for treating bites and stings at home:

  • Remove the sting or tick if it is still in the skin
  • Wash the affected area with soap and water
  • Apply a cold compress (such as a flannel or cloth cooled with cold water) or an ice pack to any swelling for at least 10 minutes
  • Raise or elevate the affected area if possible, as this can help reduce swelling
  • Avoid scratching the area, to reduce the risk of infection
  • Avoid traditional home remedies, such as vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, as they are unlikely to help.

Dr Julian Povey, Joint Chair for NHS Shropshire CCG and NHS Telford and Wrekin CCG, said: “Bites and stings are normally harmless and only cause minor irritation by becoming red, swollen and itchy for a few days. They can usually be treated at home by washing the bite or sting with water and taking an antihistamine tablet to reduce swelling.

“For more advice about what treatments and pain relief you can take for your bites or stings, it’s best to speak to your local pharmacist – it’s free of charge and no appointment is necessary.

“In rare cases, some stings can become very painful. If you have a large area of swelling and blistering or if there is pus, which indicates an infection, you should visit NHS 111 online or call NHS 111.

“Very rarely, people can have extreme allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing and wheezing; these are medical emergencies and you should call 999.”

If you have one of these following reactions, this may be a symptom of a severe allergic reaction and you should call 999 immediately:

  • wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • a swollen face, mouth or throat
  • feeling sick or being sick
  • a fast heart rate
  • dizziness or feeling faint
  • difficulty swallowing
  • loss of consciousness.

For more information about treating bites and stings, visit the NHS website page, treating insect bites and stings.

For medical advice, visit NHS 111 online or call NHS 111 which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

More advice on self-care is available from the CCGs: Shropshire CCG self care and Take Care Telford.

*Source: NHS Digital  https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/hospital-accident--emergency-activity/2018-19