Your quick-fix guide to insect bites

With the rains knocking on our doors, insects of all kinds are waiting for their day in the sun. Damp weather is perfect for insects to make hay (read: bite/ sting). The good news is that most insects are pretty harmless and nothing much will happen in the event of a sting or a bite. Generally, insect bites will heal on their own and a visit to the doctor is not necessary. However, some stings and bites will cause problems. This can be quite annoying and, often, painful if you are travelling or are vacationing somewhere.

If you have been stung or bitten, especially by a bee, move away from the area immediately. Bees alert other bees, and you may get stung again.

Whenever you make a painful tryst with an insect, don’t lose your cool. Remaining still and calm is good because if you move the venom will also move through your blood stream.

If you have been stung by a bee or a wasp or a red ant and other insects with stingers, check the area you have been bitten. If the stinger is still in the skin, remove it. If you can’t get hold of it, use tweezers. Do it as quickly as possible.

In case of a sting to the arm or leg, lower the limb to reduce the spread of venom. Later on, if there is swelling, put your leg on a higher plane, like a table. This will reduce inflammation.

If you have contacted a caterpillar, remove broken-off spines by placing cellophane tape or commercial facial peel over the area of the contact and pull it off.

If a scorpion has bitten you, go to a doctor ASAP. There is an antidote now.

Ice packs always help. Apply an ice pack to area where you have received a bite for 20 minutes every hour for the first six to seven hours.

Use a over-the-counter cream to get relief from itching, redness, and swelling. In most cases it will do the trick. An antihistamine is likely to give you relief. In case of a child, consult a doctor before administering an antihistamine.

A local anesthetic spray that contains benzocaine will give you relief from the pain. If you are allergic to such chemicals, a neem/ turmeric paste can also help.

Lacto calamine lotion also relieves itching and redness. Do not use in rectal/ vaginal area in young kids. Doctor’s advice is a must in such cases.
Bug trivia

  • Death from bee stings is 3-4 times more common than death from snake bites. After a bee stings, it loses its stinger and dies in the process.
  • While mosquito bites are irritating and painful, they are not dangerous from the venom point of view. But you need to ensure there are no mosquitoes as they transfer diseases like malaria and dengue.
  • Lice can transmit epidemic relapsing fever.
  • Sleeping sickness in humans is caused by the tsetse fly.
  • The Black Widow is the most venomous spider but it is not native to India. In India, the spider to avoid is the sun spider.
  • The Giant Indian Hornet is the world’s largest wasp and it has one of the most painful and serious bites. They are also called Killer Hornets and their stinger is about a quarter inch long!
  • Found in Asia, America and Europe, Fire Ant causes the most bite cases and deaths among ants, around 20 deaths annually worldwide. It is a very aggressive ant.
  • The Red and Black Indian scorpions are among the most dangerous scorpions in the world. Around 20 people die due to scorpion stings.
  • One of most important poems by Nissim Ezekiel, an Indian poet who writes in English, is entitled ‘The Night of the Scorpion’. While it talks about a stinging incident, it is actually about love.

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