20 June 2018

Take 8: How should insect stings be managed?

Allergies Clinical

It sounds a bit “ridiculous” but stopping yourself being stung is the first thing to do after being stung by an insect, says Associate Professor Kymble Spriggs.

“Especially with bee stings, which are often left inside you, it’s really important to remove those promptly as this can completely change the actual allergen dose that people receive,” he says.

“Bee stings, if you squeeze them as well, will actually deliver the remainder of the dose. If they are scratched out with your finger nails it can mean the difference between a large swelling and no swelling whatsoever.”

Associate Professor Kymble Spriggs, a specialist allergist and immunologist based in Melbourne, said the next step is to use regular, second generation antihistamines, which will have a large effect on swelling.

“People can use ice and elevate the area,” he said. “This has not been shown to be of huge benefit most of the time, but often this feels symptomatically better for patients.”

People often scratch itchy wounds, which can cause secondary infections. So, using band aids or bandages to protect the skin is also very important, he said.