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    Insect bites & stings

    Insect bites & stings

    Insect bites/stings are usually harmless if the person is not allergic to them. 

    Bites/stings from bees, wasps, hornets and fire ants cause pain, while bites from mosquitoes, fleas and mites cause itch. Some insect bites may also spread diseases.  

    What you can do 

    To reduce the risk of insect bites and stings,  

    • Use insect repellent  
    • Avoid bee or wasp nests 
    • Wear long sleeves and pants, especially when you are outdoors, to reduce exposure 
    • Avoid wearing brightly coloured clothing as they can attract bees 
    • Avoid bushy, wooded or grassy areas  
    • Avoid heavily scented perfume/lotions 

    Signs and Symptoms of Insect Bites and Stings 

    •  Reactions that happen immediately 
       - Pain
       - Swelling
       - Redness
       - Mild itching which may last for hours 
    • Reactions that take a while to develop
       - Rash

       - Fever
       - General discomfort
       - Joint pains
       - Weakness
       - Swelling
       - Headache, dizziness, fainting 

    Some people might be allergic to insect stings and the most serious form of an allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a reaction involving the whole body and symptoms include  

    •  Hives and itching around the whole body 
    •  Wheezing  or shortness of breath 
    •  Hoarseness or tightness of the throat 
    •  Fainting 

    Anaphylaxis can cause death and you would need to go to the emergency department immediately  

    What you can do 

    • Remove the stinger if it is stuck to your skin. Use the back of a credit card or other straight-edge objects to scrap across the stinger. Do not use tweezers as it may squeeze the venom sac and release more venom into the skin 
    • Wash the area with soap and water 
    • Apply ice pack to reduce the pain and swelling 

    When to see a Doctor 

    • The symptoms of the bites and stings do not go away, even after taking/applying medicines 
    • The person has been stung by many insects at the same time 
    • If there are signs of anaphylaxis  


    Updated in Nov 2018 

    This article does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist. People with special health needs such as babies, children below 12 year old, elderly and pregnant ladies should see a doctor instead of self-treatment. Always read the instructions and warnings on the package before taking any medicine.

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