Care for Poisonous Insect Stings


With spring here and summer just around the corner, we find ourselves spending more time doing outdoor activities.  The potential of getting bitten or stung by a spider or insect greatly increases. Though not all insect stings are poisonous, but several are and if bitten, immediate first aid care is necessary.

Here’s a list of possible poisonous bites and stings and their treatments:

Black Widow Spider
Though rarely lethal a black widow bite can be serious. You can identify the black widow spider by the red hourglass marking on its belly. The black widow spider bite may not be painful at first. In fact, you may not even feel the bite. Soon afterwards you’ll begin to notice a bit of swelling and red marks developing. If not treated immediately, intense pain can develop.  Joint stiffness, fever, chills, severe abdominal pain and vomiting will occur. Seek immediate medical attention and anti-venom treatments.

Brown Recluse Spider
The brown recluse is identifiable by the violin shaped marking on its back and it can produce a mild sting when it bites. Within a few hours local redness will develop at the bite site along with intense pain. A fluid filled blister will develop and pop leaving a gaping ulcer in the skin.
Clean the wound site with plain soap and water. Tie a snug bandage just above the bite site and towards the heart to slow the progression of the venom. DO NOT tie the bandage so tight that it cuts off circulation. Apply a cold cloth or a bag of water and ice combined to the injured site. Seek immediate medical attention.

Bee, Yellow Jacket, Wasp, Hornet
Bees lose their stingers when they sting and die soon after, but yellow jackets, wasp and hornets don’t lose their stingers and can inflict multiple stings. Most people will experience local mild swelling and itching. Taking an oral antihistamine for the itching and acetaminophen for the pain will be all the treatment you’ll need. Though some people can have a severe anaphylactic reaction. For those individuals, the use of an epipen (epinephrine auto-injector) would be necessary and continue to seek immediate medical attention.

Fire Ants
Found in most of the southern part of the United States, these ants look similar to most other ants. Except they can produce a powerful and painful sting. These ants will attach themselves to the skin with a powerful bite and produce several stings from their abdomen. This venom can cause red bumps that burn and itch. Also a painful puss-filled lesions may also occur. Ice packs antihistamines and pain relievers may relieve some of the discomfort. If a larger amount of stings occur, a severe life-threatening reaction may result. Immediate medical attention is needed.

Puss Caterpillar
Yes there is a Caterpillar that can be harmful to your health. This long haired Caterpillar has stingers hidden underneath their hairy body. When stung, a person will feel intense pain, develop a rash, accompanied by a fever, vomiting and severe muscle cramps. Remove stingers by using cellophane tape and seek medical attention.

Found mostly in the Southern and Western states and scorpion sting can be life-threatening. Though not all scorpions are venomous, those that are can cause a painful sting. If stung, you’ll experience severe pain, increased sweating, swelling, vomiting, itching and vision problems. Immediate medical attention is necessary.

Other than causing an annoyance and a bite that causes us to itch, the mosquito can carry and transfer blood borne viruses like West Nile virus, Dengue fever virus and the Chikungunya virus. If you begin to experience a high fever, joint and/or back pain, vomiting and develop a rash, see your physician.

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