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Injury Prevention and Safety

Tips to Prevent Insect Bites, Stings from Bugging You

It's that time of year again for baseball games, golf outings, camping trips, bike rides, picnics in the park and afternoons at the swimming pool. But, let's not forget about those pesky insects. While most insects are simply a nuisance, others can cause anything from a painful bite to a severe allergic reaction, including death.

Bee, wasp, hornet and yellow jacket stings occur frequently during the warmer months. When a person develops symptoms other than localized pain soon after a bite or sting, severe allergic reaction is a major concern and he or she needs to be treated immediately.

People have a common misperception about spider bites. A lot of people think they've been bitten by a spider when they actually have a skin abscess or infection. Unless the person sees the spider bite them and can bring it in with them to the emergency department, it's hard to confirm. Actually, spider bites are very rare.

Anyone who spends even a brief amount of time outdoors is exposed to the potential of being stung. In order to reduce the likelihood of being stung:

Bee, wasp, hornet and yellow jacket stings are usually only dangerous to a person who is allergic to the sting or who has been stung multiple times. Insects will bite at any time of the day, but most bites occur in the evening, so extra precautions should be taken after sunset.

According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, about 993,923 injuries caused by insect bites and stings were treated in hospital emergency departments across the nation in 2008. Follow these treatment tips for stings and bites:

Symptoms, such as a rash, that occur on parts of the body other than around the bite or sting indicate a generalized allergic reaction. A patient having an allergic reaction gets high priority in the emergency department. They will need to receive shots specific to their allergic reaction. Severe reactions typically occur within 15 to 20 minutes after the bite or sting.

Although the vast majority of bee and yellow jacket stings can be treated without seeing a physician, it's good to err on the side of caution. When in doubt, get checked out!

This article is based on information provided by The Ohio State University Medical Center Media Relations Office and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.

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Last Reviewed: Jun 29, 2010

Richard   Nelson, MD Richard Nelson, MD
Vice Chair of Emergency Medicine
Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University