Buzz buzz baby (first aid tips for insect bites and stings)

orange blossom beeWe see bees often here in Southern Arizona – especially when spring is in full bloom. But with bees come the chance of swarms and stings.

We primarily have Africanized bees… but, for the most part, they leave humans alone unless someone disturbs a hive or is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A few years ago Bill and I were out in the front yard doing chores and heard — then saw — a swarm of bees coming down the middle of our street. The swarm then flew across our neighbor’s yard (across the street from us) so we figured it went into the wildlife corridor behind their home.

The next day we discovered the bees were hanging out in our neighbor’s mesquite tree so they called a bee removal team.

Before the team arrived Bill took this great pic of the bee mosh pit. And yes … the below bee ball is solid bees! Then the swarm flew away just before the removal team showed up.

bee ball

Since spring has sprung in many parts of the world, we wanted to share some basic first aid tips about insect bites & stings in general.

Things to watch for…

  • Stinger (Note: honeybees leave a stinger and venom sac)
  • Puncture or bite mark
  • Burning pain or Swelling
  • Allergic Reaction – Pain, itching, hives, redness or discoloration at site, trouble breathing, signs of shock (pale, cold, drowsy, etc.)
  • If a mosquito bite – watch for signs of West Nile Virus (most symptoms appear 2 to 15 days after being bitten)… Mild flu-like symptoms – fever, headache & body aches, Mild skin rash and swollen lymph glands, or Severe symptoms – severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, confusion, shakes, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, meningitis or encephalitis

What to do…

  • Move quickly and calmly away from area if there is a swarm, hive or nest nearby.
  • If a bee sting, remove stinger(s) by scraping it away with credit card, knife or long fingernail. Don’t try to squeeze it out with your fingers or tweezers since this causes more venom to get in the victim.
  • Wash the wound with soap and water or rinse with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Cover with a bandage or clean cloth and apply ice pack or cold compress.
  • Watch for allergic reactions for a few days (see above).

To relieve pain from an insect bite or sting:

Activated charcoal – Make a paste using 2-3 capsules and a small amount of warm water. Dab paste on sting site and cover with gauze or plastic to keep it moist. This will help draw out venom so it collects on your skin. Note, powder makes a black mess but easily wiped off with a towel

Baking Soda – Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda + 1 part warm water and apply to the sting site for 15-20 minutes.

Clay mudpack – If in the wilderness, put a mudpack over injury and cover with bandage or cloth. The mudpack must be a mix of clay-containing soil since clay is the key element, but don’t use if any skin is cracked or broken.

Meat tenderizer – Mixing meat tenderizer (check ingredient list for “papain”) with warm water and applying to the sting will help break down insect venom. (Papain is a natural enzyme derived from papaya.)

Urine (Pee) – Another remedy useful in the wilderness sounds gross (but has a history of medical applications in a number of cultures) is urine (pee) which reduces the stinging pain. Unless you have a urinary tract infection, the pee will be sterile and at the least won’t do any harm.

Some other potential pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory remedies:

  • fresh aloe – break open a leaf or use 96-100% pure aloe gel
  • lemon juice – from a fresh lemon
  • vitamin E – oil from a bottle or break open a few gel capsules
  • store brands – if over-the-counter methods preferred, use calamine cream or lotion and aspirin or acetaminophen

Things to do to avoid mosquito bites …

  • Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and early evenings when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
  • Spray clothing and exposed skin with repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) – the higher % of DEET, the longer you’re protected from bites (6.65% lasts almost 2 hours; 20% lasts about 4 hours, etc.) Two other repellents are picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Don’t put repellent on small children’s hands since it may irritate their mouths or eyes.
  • Get rid of “standing water” sources around yard and home since they are breeding grounds for skeeters.
  • The CDC says Vitamin B and “ultrasonic” devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites!
  • Learn more about West Nile Virus

 

Above extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? A Disaster Preparedness, Prevention & Basic First Aid Manual by Bill & Janet Liebsch

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One Response to Buzz buzz baby (first aid tips for insect bites and stings)

  1. lizard100 says:

    Did you know that swarming bees are less likely to sting unless given very good reason? They’re abdomen is engorged with honey for the trip so they can’t physically aim their tail to sting.

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