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How to Fight Summertime Insect Stings & Bites

Summer brings out some of our little friends from the insect world. But some of them are not so friendly when it comes to stings and bites. The Early Show brings us Dr. Emily Senay to tell us more.

Which insects should we be concerned with?

We need to watch out for those flying insects which inject venom when they sting, such as bees and wasps. Not only are the stings painful, but about 50 people a year actually die from allergic reactions to stings. The insects belong to the same order--Hymenoptera. This order includes our friend the bee, which is usually only concerned with going about the business of pollinating flowers and making honey, but if disturbed, can deliver a painful sting. Especially avoid disturbing a bee’s nest, because if they swarm, you run the risk of getting a large number of painful stings.

What should you do if you get stung by a bee?

If you do get stung by a bee, it’s important to remember that a bee will leave its stinger with a venom sac attached in you. You need to remove the stinger without squeezing more venom into your body. The stinger can be removed by taking a credit card or something similar with a hard edge and scraping it across the stinger to pull it out without pressing on the venom sac.

What is the difference between a bee sting and a wasp sting?

Wasps are shaped a little differently, but are also capable of a painful sting. They do not leave their stinger in you, so they can sting you repeatedly. Wasps are usually found wherever food or garbage is available, so they are more likely to pester you than a bee.

What should you do if you get stung by any of these insects?

The effects of bee and wasp stings can range from a local sore spot where the venom is injected to a wider area of local irritation. For a localized reaction, a little insect bite remedy or cortizone cream can reduce swelling and itching. It’s important not to scratch because the wound can get infected. For a wider local reaction, an antihistamine cream or injection might be necessary.

Can’t stings cause more serious problems if you are allergic?

If you are severely allergic, immediate medical attention should be sought. If you know that you are allergic, you can also carry an epinephrine injection kit to make sure you can fight off the allergic reaction.

Some of the signs to watch out for with a full-blown allergic reaction include hives, swelling, nausea, vomiting, and shock.

Anything else to watch out for?

Let’s not forget our old enemy the mosquito, whose bite causes that little itchy red bump that we are so familiar with. There is really no cure for the itch, but again, it’s best not to scratch to avoid infection. Use a topical antihistamine or hydrocortisone cream to reduce swelling and itching. Use a topical antihistamine or hydrocortisone cream to reduce swelling and itchingMosquito bites can potentially spread more serious disease--like encephalitis or malaria. A repellent containing DEET is usually your best bet to ward them off, although most of us already know that there is no 100% effective repellent for mosquitos.
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