Managing Those Pesky Insect Bites

Summer is (thankfully) almost over but the bugs are still out in force! Being bitten by a mozzie, midgie or ant can be a mild annoyance for some and excruciating pain for others.

Prevention is always the best treatment so make sure you lather yourself up with bug spray and surround yourself with a field of citronella candles. If one of the cheeky blighters manages to get through your defence and issues a bite, here’s what the best treatment is (besides enacting cruel and swift justice on the offending bug):

MOSQUITOES

mosquito bite first aid

The most annoying creatures on the planet.

The mozzie is a prime example of one of those creatures that can deliver a mild annoyance or a life-changing event. Mosquitoes are renowned for being carriers of all manner of diseases and any unusual symptoms after a bite must be checked out by a medical professional.

The best first aid for a mozzie bite is:

  • Wash the bite area with water.
  • Apply an ice pack or cold compress to the area to stop the itching.
  • If itching persists, use calamine lotion or other gels to help alleviate. The itching is caused by our body’s response to the mosquito saliva – it releases histamine which in turn results in heavier blood flow and white cell count to counteract the foreign substance. Unfortunately, this also leads to swelling and itching!

ANTS

Ant bites can be quite varied depending on the ant type that delivers the bite. Small common black ants may deliver an annoying itchy feeling but larger bull ants and fire ants can deliver excruciating pain.

First aid for ant bites is very similar for mosquitoes, the only difference being that some people may also need to take antihistamine medication to manage the swelling and pain.

TICKS

tick bite first aid

When ticks dig in, they can’t be forcefully removed.

Although often found in bushland, it’s possible to pick up a tick anywhere. One latched on, ticks inject their saliva which contains allergens into the bloodstream. For some, ticks are annoying but for others (pets especially) ticks can lead to anaphylactic shock or even death.

If a tick is located, do not remove the tick by force. Disturbing the tick may cause it to dig in further, even if the head is separated from the body. Either leave the tick in place and seek help from a medal professional or try to freeze the tick off with over the counter medications (similar to medications that freeze off warts).

Once the tick is safely removed, apply antiseptic cream to the area and an ice pack. Take antihistamine tablets if required and monitor for any signs of allergic reaction.

ANAPHYLAXIS

With all the above insect bites, a person may experience a severe allergic reaction. Signs of this include:

  • Laboured or loud breathing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Swollen tongue and/or throat
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Paleness or weakness
  • Wheeze or persistent cough

If the patient has an EpiPen or other self-administering devices, follow the instructions on the packaging and administer to the patient. Call 000 immediately and follow the operator’s instructions.

Being qualified in first aid goes a long way towards confidently dealing with allergic reactions and ensuring the patient has the best chance of a full recovery. We also offer specific Asthma, Anaphylaxis and CPR training.