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Backyard Bug Bites and Stings

By Dr. Stankiewicz

Bug bites and stings are a common problem in the spring and summer months. They are usually harmless and more of a nuisance than a serious health concern. Occasionally, they can cause infections or allergic reactions that may need to be addressed by a health care professional. Parents should know the signs of infection or an allergic reaction and when and how to take action.

Home Remedies

  • A bee will leave behind a stinger that should be removed as quickly as possible.
  • Wash the area with soap and water a few times a day until the skin is healed.
  • Apply an ice pack or a cold, wet washcloth for a few minutes to relieve any inflammation.
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be given as needed for pain relief.
  • For continued pain or itching, an over-the-counter oral antihistamine can be taken or antibiotic lotion may be applied to the area.
  • A sting anywhere in the mouth requires immediate medical attention. (Stings in this area can swell quickly and may block airways)
  • Seek medical care if a large skin rash or swelling develops around the site, or if swelling or pain continues for more than 3 days. 

Get medical help right away if you notice any of the following symptoms, which may indicate a serious allergic reaction:

  • Tightness in the throat/ chest
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or face
  • Dizziness/ fainting
  • Nausea/ vomiting

Caring for a Bee Sting
A bee will leave behind a stinger that should be removed as quickly as possible, and the area should be washed with soap and water a few times a day until the skin is healed. An ice pack or a cold wash cloth should be applied to relieve any inflammation. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be given for pain relief. If the pain or itching persists, an over the counter oral antihistamine can be taken, or an antibiotic lotion can be applied to the area. A sting anywhere in the mouth requires immediate medical attention. (Stings in this area can swell quickly and may block airways). Seek medical care if a large skin rash or swelling develops around the site, or if swelling or pain continues for more than 3 days. Get immediate medical help if you notice any of the following symptoms, which may indicate a serious allergic reaction: Tightness in the throat or chest, swelling of the lips, tongue or face, dizziness, fainting, nausea or vomiting.

Tick Bites
Be sure to check your kids and pets for ticks carefully after you have been in or around a wooded area. If you find a tick on your child:

  • Use tweezers to grasp the tick at its head or mouth, next to the skin.
  • Pull firmly on the tick until it lets go. Do not twist or jerk the tick.
  • Cleanse the bite site with soap and water.
  • DO NOT use petroleum jelly or a lit match to kill and remove a tick. These methods may actually cause the tick to burrow deeper and release more saliva. This increases the chances of transmitting disease
  • Call your doctor. (They may want you to save the tick in a sealed container for identification later).

Topics and Subtopics: Children's Health & Skin Health

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