Health Education

Treating the Stings this Summer

Cropped SingleCare logo By | August 31, 2015

Stings and bites from all the bugs buzzing around us are commonplace throughout the summer months. Learn how to identify the usual suspects, and the best ways to avoid all the unwanted attention.

While summer brings a chance to bask in glorious sunshine and explore the outdoors, it also comes with its own small dangers — insect stings and bites. Unfortunately, pleasant picnics are crashed all too often by bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and fire ants.

These insects can be more than just a nuisance, as they can leave stings, bites, pains, itches, and sometimes, dangerous allergic reactions in their wake. But as dangerous as these bugs can sometimes be, many of them are harmless.

What’s more, you should know that some stings are scarier than others. That’s why it’s important educate yourself on the different symptoms, treatments, and allergies associated with these insect injuries, so that you can keep enjoying these relaxing days outdoors.

Common Culprits

Bees and Wasps

First and foremost, let’s clarify the difference: to put it simply, bees are furry and wasps are not. Wasps most often come in either black and white, or black and yellow, while bees tend to be predominantly coated in the familiar gold and black.

Some of the more common wasp species include the yellow jacket and the hornet. Yellow jackets nest underground, while hornets can be found in paper-like nests that are attached to trees.

Bees and wasps sting. After feeling a pinch, their sting will either produce a local reaction, or an allergic reaction.The localized reaction will manifest itself in immediate pain, redness, swelling, and itching.

It will only require local wound care like cleaning and antibiotic ointment. An allergic reaction can be identified by the following symptoms: difficulty breathing, red itchy rashes spreading to areas beyond the sting, swelling of the face and throat area, anxiety, rapid pulse, and dizziness.

To treat allergic reactions, an injection of epinephrine is often administered. If you don’t have an epipen on you at the time of an allergy attack, seek medical help immediately.

Mosquitoes and Fire Ants

Mosquitoes are hard to avoid in the summer, and their droning buzz is one of the most irritating sounds of the seasons. Only female mosquitoes bite, and when they do, you’ll notice a small, red, itchy swelling around the place where you’ve been bitten.

Although time will heal your mosquito bite, you can prevent the initial attack with repellent sprays. If you’ve gotten bitten already, symptoms can be eased with anti-itch creams and ointments like aloe vera.

Fire ants can be either red or black, and are found within building walls and in mounds of soft soil. They have the potential to do some serious damage, and immediate medical attention is necessary if the sting causes an allergic reaction.

And beware! Disturbing a fire ant’s nest will most likely provoke the insects to retaliate in an aggressive swarm. Their infamous “fire” sting causes a burning sensation and white blisters on the skin.

Avoiding Stings and Bites

To avoid getting stung in the remaining warm weather, learn about your potential tormentors and take precautions to avoid these insects’ attention.

Make sure to look out for nests by your feet, not just at a height. Also, reduce the potential bite area by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks, and shoes. Lastly, pungent perfumes and brightly colored clothing will attract the attention of certain insects, so dial down on these attention-grabbing accessories during the warmer months.

And if you’re going on a hike or a picnic, make sure to bring some insect repellent for you and your friends.

If you get bitten this summer, especially if you have an allergy, get the right prescriptions at reduced costs with SingleCare’s pharmacy program. Don’t avoid prevention and treatment because you’re unclear on exactly what your insurance covers, because these little bites could potentially turn into big trouble.

Luckily, SingleCare can help you get whatever treatment you need (without breaking the bank) to put the relaxation back into your summer season.

(Main image credit: Stavros Markopoulos/flickr)