Home > Common Ailments > B > BITES AND STINGS



What is it?
Bites and stings can range from mild and almost unnoticed to the extremely serious. There are two types of bites- those from non-poisonous creatures such as dogs and cats and those from venomous creatures such as snakes and spiders. Stings are caused by insects and some fish.

Danger Signs: if the victim of a bite or sting shows signs of acute distress such as facial swelling, difficulty in breathing or extreme pain, call a doctor immediately or take the victim to hospital.

Bee stings: Remove bee stings with tweezers. Do not squeeze the poison bag as this will release more poison to the skin. To relieve pain and swelling, apply a solution of bicarbonate of soda. See a doctor immediately if there is a severe allergic reaction, for example facial swelling of difficulty in breathing.

Scorpion Stings: Most Scorpion stings cause a burning pain which lasts up to 30 minutes. Apply an ice pack to relieve the pain. Usually no further treatment is necessary. Stings by the parabuthus species are serious and a doctor should be consulted immediately. Symptoms are sharp intense burning pain, increased salivation, difficulty in breathing, rapid heartbeat, muscle spasm and convulsions.

Jellyfish Stings: Stings are painful and cause a rash. Treat with Vinegar.

Blue-Bottle Stings: Stings cause intense pain. Treat with vinegar. Consult a doctor immediately if there is weakness, nausea, vomiting and muscle spasm.

Animal Bites: Wash the wound with soap and water. Dry and cover with a sterile unmedicated dressing. See a doctor in case an anti-tetanus or anti-rabies injection is needed.

Mosquito Bites: Mosquito bites cause mild inflammation and itching. Apply calamine lotion to relieve the itching.

Tick Bites: Do not try to pull the tick off the skin. Touch it with a burning match and it will fall off. Consult a doctor immediately in the case of severe headache and fever.

Snake Bites: Reassure the victim and stop him from panicking. Keep limb still. Apply a firm crepe bandage to the limb. Make sure the bite site is bandaged. Immobilise the limb further by applying a splint. If the trunk is bitten (rare), apply a firm pressure without restricting breathing. Get medical help immediately or take the victim to hospital.

Spider Bites: The bite ok a black widow or button spider is the only spider-bite that causes serious symptoms.

Symptoms: Intense Pain. Sometimes severe pain develops in parts remote from the bite, for example in an opposite limb, Headache. Nausea and vomiting. Profuse sweating. Restlessness and muscle weakness. Sometimes difficulty in breathing and blurred vision.

Treatment: Apply iced water to the bite. Consult a doctor immediately.