Treating Summertime Stings – Advice from the Doctors at South Tampa Immediate Care
While spending time outdoors this summer, you will likely encounter some of the wide variety of insects that are so common in Florida. Many of these bugs play a key role in breaking down decaying animals and plants, but unfortunately they can also sting, bite, and irritate humans. While often uncomfortable, however, very few insect bites are deadly.
The main concern following an insect sting is an allergic reaction, which can be life-threatening. Allergies to the stings of honeybees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets are quite common. The key signs to watch for include:
- Itching and swelling beyond the sting site
- Hives or flushing
- Tingling inside the mouth
- Chest discomfort or pounding
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anaphylaxis marked by breathing, swallowing, or speaking difficulties; hoarseness; facial swelling; dizziness; and fainting
If any of these problems occur, seek medical attention immediately. If you have a known allergy, you should consult with your doctor about obtaining an emergency epinephrine kit to have on hand in the event of a sting.
Some of the more common biting and stinging insects in Florida are:
- Mosquito – A bite results in an itchy, round red or pink bump. Wash the area with soap and water and use an over-the-counter anti-itch cream. An ice pack may provide additional relief. Allergic reactions are unusual, but because mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Dengue Fever, it is important to avoid being bitten. It’s best to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a repellent that contains DEET*, especially around water and at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
- Fire Ant – Stinging venom causes the formation of a red-ringed pus pocket, which may last for several days. Cleanse the sting site and apply ice wrapped in a clean towel. A triple antibiotic cream may help alleviate the symptoms. Although allergic reactions are rare, remain vigilant for the signs.
- Bees, Wasps, and Hornets – Bees leave behind a stinger, but wasps and hornets do not. If stung, remove any stinger immediately any way you can, and then wash the area with soap and water. Allergies are common, so watch closely for the symptoms of anaphylaxis. Non-allergic victims usually develop local reactions, such as redness, swelling, and pain. An ice pack and antihistamine may be helpful.
- Deer Tick – Though relatively rare in Florida, some ticks carry Lyme Disease. If you find a tick attached to your skin, remove it immediately by pulling it straight out with tweezers, then wash the area with soap and water. If you experience a skin rash resembling a bull’s eye, fever, headache, muscle pain, stiff neck, joint swelling, or unexplained illness following a tick bite, consult your physician.
- Brown Recluse Spider – The venom is extremely potent and toxic to tissue, so if bitten you should seek medical attention immediately. You may not experience any serious signs right away, but after a few hours, a stinging sensation may develop, along with pain and swelling. Left untreated, the bite can worsen into a severe infection.
For additional family safety and health tips, please take a look at our online series of health articles. If you have questions or would like to see a physician, feel free to contact or visit the South Tampa Immediate Care walk-in clinic.
*Children can use products of up to 10 percent DEET, and adults can use products of up to 50 percent DEET.