Common bites and stings
Most bites and stings will heal on their own without a visit to a doctor. There are several things you can do to relieve pain and itching and prevent infection from a bite or sting.
Insect or spider bites or stings or contact with caterpillars
- Move away from the stinging or biting insect. Bees will alert other bees, making them more likely to sting.
- Remain as calm and quiet as possible. Movement increases the spread of venom in the bloodstream.
- If you have been stung by a bee and the stinger is still in the skin, remove the stinger as quickly as possible.
- If you have been stung on the arm or leg, lower the limb at the time of the sting to slow the spread of venom. Hours later, if swelling is present, you can elevate the limb to help reduce swelling.
- After contact with a puss caterpillar , remove broken-off spines by placing cellophane tape or commercial facial peel over the area of the contact and pulling it off.
- If you have been stung by a scorpion, see a doctor right away. There is now a medicine (antidote) for scorpion stings.
Relieve pain, itching, and swelling
- Apply an ice pack to a bite or sting for 15 to 20 minutes once an hour for the first 6 hours. When not using ice, keep a cool, wet cloth on the bite or sting for up to 6 hours. Always keep a cloth between your skin and the ice pack. Do not apply ice for longer than 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Do not fall asleep with the ice on your skin.
- Elevate the area of the bite or sting to decrease swelling.
- Try a nonprescription medicine for the relief of itching, redness, and swelling. Be sure to follow the nonprescription medicine precautions.
- An antihistamine taken by mouth, such as Benadryl or Chlor-Trimeton, may help relieve itching, redness, and swelling. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.
- A spray of local anesthetic containing benzocaine, such as Solarcaine, may help relieve pain. If your skin reacts to the spray, stop using it.
- Hydrocortisone 1% cream or calamine lotion applied to the skin may help relieve itching and redness. Note: Do not use the cream on children younger than age 2 unless your doctor tells you to. Do not use in the rectal or vaginal area in children younger than age 12 unless your doctor tells you to.
- After the first 6 hours, if swelling is not present, try applying warmth to the site for comfort.
|Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:|
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
|Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:|
Prevent a skin infection
- Wash the area with clean water 2 times a day.
- After washing, wipe the area with rubbing alcohol or first-aid antiseptic.
- Trim fingernails to prevent scratching, which can lead to infection.
- Do not break any blisters that develop.
- You may cover the wound with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a nonstick bandage. Apply more petroleum jelly and replace the bandage as needed.
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment: