How to avoid, treat stings

Stinging
insects – they’re as much a part of summer as pool parties and picnics. But
stings from insects like mosquitoes, bees, wasps, hornets and fire ants can
cause severe reactions to children’s sensitive skin.

Normal
vs. allergic reactions

To
stay safe, it is important to be aware of the differences between normal
reactions to insect bites and allergic reactions.

A
normal reaction to an insect sting may include pain, swelling, itching or
redness at the sting site, but with the help of an antihistamine or pain relieving
cream, these symptoms will ease quickly.

An
allergic reaction to an insect sting, however, requires immediate medical
attention. Symptoms of allergic reactions include: hives, itching and swelling
in areas other than the sting site; tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing;
swelling of the tongue, throat, nose or lips; or dizziness and fainting or loss
of consciousness.

“If
you have an allergic reaction to an insect sting, you are at high risk for a
similar or more severe reaction if stung again,” said Dr. James Sublett, an allergist
and chair of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology “Find an
Allergist, Find Relief” public education campaign. “So even if the first time
you just had mild symptoms, like a rash, next time you could experience more
severe or life-threatening symptoms. It’s important to talk with an allergist
and get treatment.”

Stay
clear of stings

Most
insects will only use their stingers as a last defence, so avoid situations and
conditions that attract stinging insects:

When
eating outdoors, keep food and drinks covered.

Keep
your garbage containers covered with tight lids.

Avoid
sweet-smelling perfumes, hair sprays, colognes, and deodorants.

Wear
shoes at all times to avoid stepping on stinging insects on the ground.

Teach
your children not to disturb ant hills, or wasp or hornet nests.

Invest
in insect repellant.

Do
not purposely agitate a stinging insect.