First Aid: What to do if you get stung

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With summer just around the corner, we’ll soon be heading out into the sunshine, enjoying our gardens, local parks and beaches.

But with the welcome rays comes the inevitable array of insects and if you’reunlucky enough to be stung by one of them, knowing how to treat it quickly could save you from potential complications.

Here are some tips on what to do if you get stung.

Usually a sting from a bee, wasp or hornet will give a sharp pain, be itchy and leave some redness swelling around the puncture. Depending on where you’ve been stung, this is usually not serious and is more painful than dangerous. But sometimes they can cause the body to have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock), so it’s important to look out for this and get medical help quickly if necessary.

Take the following simple steps to help:

• Reassure and calm down the person who has been stung

• If the sting is visible, brush or scrape it off. You could use the blunt edge of a knife or a credit card.

• DO NOT use tweezers as you risk squeezing more poison into the wound

• Apply an ice pack (a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a cloth will do) or cold compress for at least 10 minutes, and if possible raise the affected area of the body

• If swelling and pain persist seek medical advice from your doctor

• Beware of stings to the mouth and throat

• Stings to the mouth and throat can be dangerous as the tissue can swell causing the airway to become blocked

• Suck on an ice cube, or sip cold water to help prevent any swelling. Give children ice cream or an ice lolly rather than an ice cube

• Keep checking breathing, pulse and level of response

• If any swelling starts to develop and breathing becomes difficult call for medical help immediately

Call 999 for severe allergic reaction. Some people suffer severe allergic reactions to insect bites and stings. If there is any sign of impaired breathing or swelling to the face, neck, tongue, mouth or lips or if there is a widespread rash, dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance. For more information visit www.sja.org.uk