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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Care of an Insect Sting
Insect stings often cause minor swelling, redness, pain, and
itching. Most bites and stings will heal on their own without a visit to a
doctor. There are several things you can do to relieve pain and itching and
prevent infection from a bite or sting.
After you are stung, try to move
away from the stinging insect. Bees will alert other bees, making them more
likely to sting. Remain as calm and quiet as possible. Movement will increase
the spread of venom in your bloodstream.
It is important to
remove the stinger as quickly as possible after a sting. Even a delay of a
second or two in removing the stinger is likely to increase the amount of venom
you receive. In less than 20 seconds after a sting, 90% of the venom is
injected into your body.
To quickly remove the stinger:
If you have been stung on the arm or leg, lower the limb
at the time of the sting to slow the spread of venom. Hours later, if swelling
is present, you can elevate the limb to help reduce swelling.
Apply an ice
pack to a bite or sting for 15 to 20 minutes once an hour for the first 6
hours. Always keep a cloth between your skin and the ice pack, and press firmly
against all the curves of the affected area. Do not apply ice for longer than
15 to 20 minutes at a time, and do not fall asleep with the ice on your
When not using ice, keep a cool, wet cloth on the bite or
sting for up to 6 hours.
After the first 6 hours, if swelling is
not present, try applying warmth to the site for comfort.
nonprescription medicine for the relief of itching,
redness, and swelling.
When using nonprescription medicines, be sure to follow
all labels and instructions.
October 14, 2011
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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