When Summer Bites and Stings Need Medical Attention

Boris Beckert, MD, MBA, clinical lead for Fairview urgent care, talks about how to treat insect bites and stings commonly experienced in Minnesota summers.

Summer Bites and Stings Enjoy our beautiful Minnesota summer and watch out for those pesky bugs!

With the beautiful Minnesota summer weather upon us, many turn to the great outdoors for recreation and leisure. While fresh air and sunshine are the ingredients for the perfect summer day, we need to be aware of insect bites and stings. Everyone should know the warning signs and when to visit your local urgent care.

When is it an emergency?

The common reaction to insect bites and stings are isolated areas of redness, swelling and itching that occur at the site. These reactions usually happen during the first one to two days after the bite or sting, and gradually get better. You can treat the symptoms at home using ice packs on the site, oral antihistamines like Benadryl and Zyrtec, or hydrocortisone cream to help with the discomfort.

Young children are especially prone to exaggerated reactions to common bites. It is not unusual to see a child get dramatic swelling in the face from a simple mosquito bite. As long as the area is light pink in color and the child doesn’t appear to have any pain associated with the bite, treating it with an oral antihistamine is acceptable.

Although severe allergic reactions to bites and stings are not common, if you experience any of the following symptoms, call 911 immediately: 

  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling of the face, lips or throat
  • Feeling like you are going to pass out

Be on the lookout for ticks

Finally, it is important to be aware of tick bites. The deer tick, which carries Lyme disease, is very small in size. If you remove the tick within 24 hours of the bite, the likelihood of getting Lyme disease is very low.

If the tick has been under your skin for longer than 24 hours, you experience flu-like symptoms or you have a bullseye-shaped rash, contact your clinic for an evaluation and treatment.

Of course, if you have any questions or concerns about insect bites and stings, contact your health care professional.

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