Emergency doctors share tips for identifying and treating

WASHINGTON, DC, July 20 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — WASHINGTON, DC — Summer is in full swing and more time outdoors usually means more bug bites. Some bites can be an irritating inconvenience while others can become a medical emergency. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has a helpful guide to identifying and treating common insect bites and stings.

“While most insect stings or stings are minor and can be treated at home, some reactions can quickly become severe or life-threatening,” said CAPE President Gillian Schmitz, MD, FACEP. “It is important to pay attention to certain symptoms or allergic reactions and to seek emergency care if necessary.”

mosquito bites are more irritating than painful and can be treated with sprays, creams, or over-the-counter medications to reduce swelling. It’s time to seek emergency care if persistent flu-like symptoms appear, including fever, headache, or body aches or stomach pain. These are signs that could indicate a mosquito-borne illness, such as Zika virus or West Nile virus, and the illness may progress to include stiff neck, confusion, changes in vision or other functions related to the brain, nervous system or spinal cord.

Ticks are common, especially in forested areas. If a tick embeds itself in the skin, it is important to remove it quickly. But do not pour chemicals on it or try to remove it with force. Using clean tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible and pull upwards with a steady motion. Avoid twisting or shaking the tick, as when parts of the tick break off and stay in the skin, it can lead to infection. See a doctor for a tick that cannot be safely removed. Other signs that medical attention is needed include a “bulls-eye rash” or spots on the palms or soles of the feet which could indicate a tick-borne illness like Lyme disease or fever purple of the Rocky Mountains.

Wasp, bee or hornet bites can usually be treated at home with an ice pack or over-the-counter remedies for itching, pain, or swelling, as long as the swelling is localized to where the bite occurred and that there is no serious allergic reaction. Go to the nearest emergency department for a serious allergic reaction to a bite or sting that includes difficulty breathing, dizziness, facial swelling, swelling of the mouth, lips, or tongue.

Anaphylaxis is a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction triggered by insect bites, certain foods, medications, or latex. If anyone is suffering from anaphylaxis, call 911 immediately. Injectable epinephrine should be carried by anyone who knows they are at risk, or by their parent or guardian, and should be given if available.

“Preventive measures, such as applying insect repellent or wearing appropriate clothing for outdoor activities, can help avoid pesky bites. But knowing when to go to the emergency department could save a life,” Dr. Schmitz said.


The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is the national medical society representing emergency medicine. Through continuing education, research, public education and advocacy, CAPE advances emergency care on behalf of its 40,000 member emergency physicians and the more than 150 million people they serve. process each year. For more information, visit www.acep.org and www.emergencyphysicians.org.


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