The other day while cleaning my yard I came accross a Yellow Jack's hive (by surprise). Well to stay the least they weren't happy that I disturbed them. I was stung about 12 times mostly on my legs and hands. Innitally it stung for a day now about 3 days latter I'm still very itchy. I've been using OTC oitments for the itchiness and using Benerdryl at night, which has given some relief. It seems from research the itchiness may last for several days. Is this true? I don't see any signs of inflamation or infection. Can you offer any other advice?
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Bites & Stings are quite different attacks on our skin. Stings result when an insect is protecting itself when it feels threatened. Other than the initial pain of the attack, the venom can cause varying degrees of allergic reaction. A bite is different as the insect seeks out their victim in order to feed from their blood. After the initial bite, it injects saliva that allows for blood flow, it is this that causes inflammation and itching.
There are many insects that live in our environment that are equipped with the necessary means to inflict pain and discomfort on us in their efforts to either protect themselves from harm or to feed themselves and their young. Stingers include Wasps, Bees, Hornets, and Ants. Biters include Mosquitoes, Midges, Sand Flies, Horse Flies, Ticks and many more.
Stings: - When stung the victim will feel immediate pain. Wasps do not leave their sting behind but bees often do. If this happens do not attempt to remove the bee sting with your fingers. Remove with tweezers by gripping the shaft of the sting and not the small sack at the top as this houses the venom and if squeezed injects the remaining venom into the victim. The area around the sting will swell and redden; and may be followed by blistering and an itchy rash. In some the allergic reaction can become serious, resulting in dizziness, fainting, breathing difficulties, rash, raised pulse, sickness, or a swollen mouth & face. In severe cases the victim patient may even collapse.
Bites: - In most cases a sharp jab is felt where the insect has bitten. Unfortunately, the saliva has already been injected. It may take several minutes for the bite to become itchy and swell in to a lump or redden. In the case of midges when they attack in swarms there may be several areas where they have successfully attacked. These areas become hot and itchy and can remain so for several days to follow. The greatest danger with bites, particularly outside the US is a serious risk of disease. 20 million people die world wide from malaria each year making the mosquito the most dangerous creature on earth. There are many other diseases transmitted by insect bite such as Yellow fever, Dengue fever, and West Nile disease.
Most bites and stings do not require special treatment. Wash the area and apply an antiseptic cream, if itching persists an application of calamine lotion or antihistamine cream will help, an antihistamine tablet may be prescribed by your GP if the reaction is bad. There are products containing a mild local anesthetic or steroids to alleviate pain and itching. Always check with the pharmacist as to which product is most suitable for you. Those with a severe allergy to bites or stings will be prescribed a special self-injection device containing adrenaline for such emergencies. Use an insect repellent where biting insects are known to be active.
When traveling abroad ask your family doctor what precautions to take against disease. A course of anti-malarial pills may be advised well ahead of foreign travel to areas in which malaria is prevalent. Instead of, or as well as, you should use an insect repellent that is chemically based using either dimethyl pthalate (DMP) or diethyl-N-toluamide (DEET) the effective ingredient should be between 30 and 50%. Naturally derived repellent are also available with limited efficacy. It is recommended that only low level DEET (~10%) concentration should be applied to small children.
You are correct in your assumption that the symptoms can last for several days. I prefer to use a prescription antihistamine known as "Zyrtec" and if this does not control the symptoms a short course of "Prednisone" may be something to ask your doctor about prescribing.
The stings seem to of gotten better each day, except for today. I noticed today some areas look more like a rash or hives and are very itchy. They don't look infected or inflamed. Is this the normal course of events with stings or can something else be going on?
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