It's a beautiful summer day in Arizona. You're soaking in some of Arizona's famous sunshine while barbecuing, gardening or going barefoot in the backyard. Then, you accidentally disturb a nest of paper wasps or a colony of Africanized honey bees.
Wasps and bees can inject a painful and even life-threatening dose of venom in seconds. If you or a family member has been stung by an insect, here's what you should do.
First Aid for Insect Stings
- If you were stung by a bee, you'll notice a black dot in the center of the wound. Try removing this stinger using a credit card or your fingernail.
- Thoroughly wash the sting site with soap and water.
- Take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as naproxen sodium or ibuprofen, to minimize the pain and inflammation.
- Diphenhydramine, which is available as a cough syrup or topical cream, is a safe and effective antihistamine that relieves most symptoms. Hydrocortisone is also helpful.
- Apply an ice pack immediately to minimize pain and swelling. Johns Hopkins University recommends icing the area two to four times in 10-minute intervals.
Managing Bee and Wasp Allergies This Summer
Experts estimate that 2 million American adults and children are allergic to bee and wasp venom. Allergies can develop spontaneously after multiple insect stings. In some cases, one sting can cause life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Call 911 if you experience difficulty breathing or if you've sustained more than 30 stings at once. Other warning signs include dizziness, facial swelling, difficulty swallowing, wheezing, fever, nausea and chest tightness.
The most common reactions to insect stings are redness, pain and swelling. Moderate reactions cause extreme redness or regional swelling. These symptoms are not indicative of allergic reactions although they may require medical attention.
Preventing Insect Stings
Avoidance is the best way to prevent insect stings. When you're spending time outside, make sure that you cover food and avoid drinking sugary sodas. It's also wise to skip the perfume and to select appropriate footwear. Most importantly, remain calm if a bee or wasp buzzes you. This greatly reduces your chance of being stung.
According to the University of Arizona, 90 percent of wild bee colonies in Tucson are Africanized. Attempting to remove a nest yourself is a risky proposition. Please leave this dangerous task to our experts. If you've noticed bees or wasps around your home, contact Bill's Home Service. We'll take care of the problem safely and professionally.