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Beware of Bug Bites and Stings

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What's the best way to remove a bee stinger?

It's best to scrape a stinger away in a side-to-side motion with a straight-edged object like a credit card. Don't use tweezers because it may push more venom into the skin. After removing a stinger, wash the area with soap and water. You can apply ice or another cold compress to help reduce swelling.

What should I do if I find a tick on me or my child?

Wearing light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks. Check for ticks after outdoor activities. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out. Then drop it in a plastic bag, seal it up, and throw it away. Early removal of a tick is important because a tick generally has to be on the skin for 36 hours to transmit Lyme disease. People who want to get a tick tested for disease or other information could check with their local health departments to see if they offer tick testing. After removing a tick, you can cleanse the area of the tick bite with antiseptic, such as rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

What can be done for itching and pain from bites and stings?

Oral OTC antihistamines can bring itch relief. Oral OTC drugs, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can provide relief of pain from bites and stings.

In addition, there are many topical OTC drugs that are applied to the skin and can provide itch and pain relief. Some of these topical OTC drugs are labeled as "external analgesics" or "topical analgesics." They contain ingredients such as hydrocortisone, pramoxine, and lidocaine. There are also topical OTC drugs labeled as "skin protectants" that provide itch relief for insect bites and stings. These products contain ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal and sodium bicarbonate.

Keep kids' nails short. If they scratch the area and break the skin, it can lead to a bacterial infection that will require treatment with antibiotics.

When is medical attention needed?

Most bites and stings are minor and can be treated at home. But you should seek medical attention if you experience the following symptoms: