It’s clearly a nuisance if you’ve got insect stings or bites when going camping. Then, how do you treat an insect sting while camping?
Just leave it to self-heal? Or, go to see your doctor?
There are different ways to treat a sting depending on the insect species that bit you. Mostly, you can treat it at home but in some special cases, you should go to a medical facility. Read on to learn more!
How Do You Treat An Insect Sting While Camping?
How to identify a wasp sting: At the sting area, you’ll see a red, raised welt with a visible tiny white spot in the middle (where the wasp stinger punctured your skin).
Common symptoms are itching, swelling, and redness, along with sharp burning and pain at the sting area.
But for people who are allergic to wasp venom (the estimated prevalence rate is between 0.4% and 3.3%), they might suffer some severe symptoms (anaphylaxis), like:
- Vomiting and nausea
- Racing or weak pulse
- Stomach cramps
- Loss of consciousness
- Breathing difficulties
- Severe swelling of throat, lips, and face
The first aid is to rinse the sting area with antiseptic soap and clear freshwater, then safely pull out the wasp stinger as well as the venom.
A home remedy is vinegar because its acidity can neutralize the alkalinity of the venom. Soak a clean, small piece of white cotton patch to white vinegar or apple cider, then slightly press it on the sting spot for 2-3 minutes.
Always keep the wound dry and clean for infection-free use (use a bandage to cover it if possible).
An instant solution to decrease pain and swelling is applying an ice pack or cold compress to the sting area.
Some treatments to reduce uncomfortable feeling caused by skin irritation are:
- Use a mixture of colloidal oatmeal and baking soda through medicated skin creams or when bathing
- Apply calamine lotion
- Use hydrocortisone cream
Consult your doctor if you want to take chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine, or any antihistamine drugs to cut off itching.
The patient who has not had a booster shot in the last ten years should consider getting a tetanus shot within 2-3 days of the wasp sting.
To manage the pain feeling, take ibuprofen or other OTC pain relievers.
For severe symptoms or people who are allergic to wasp venom, it is essential to call 911 or directly go to the closest hospital or medical facility.
If your first aid kit has EpiPen, take one right after you’re stung or once any severe symptoms start.
If the wound is infected, see your doctor.
How to identify a bee sting: Around the sting site, a red bump surrounded by white skin appears.
Note: Some bees can only sting once in their life because they can’t pull out their stinger on your skin.
However, there are several bees that can sting more than once. Therefore, you might find a bee’s stinger on the red bump or not when it stung you.
Instant sharp pain and burning at the sting area and this feeling usually lasts 1-2 hours afterward. Itching, swelling, and redness will also appear and can last from several hours up to 7 days after you’re stung.
Some severe symptoms are:
- Loss of consciousness
- Vomiting or nausea
- A weak, fast pulse
- Severe swelling in tongue and throat
- Breathing difficulties
- Pale or extremely red skin, along with itching and hives
For those patients who are stung more than 10 times, aside from the previous severe symptoms, they might suffer some more, like vertigo, fever, and convulsions.
For mild to moderate reactions to bee stings, you can treat them at home.
Firstly, remove the bee’s stinger by scraping your fingernails off the sting area. Note: If the stinger isn’t left on your skin, skip this step. Or, if it’s hidden too deeply under the skin, don’t try to remove it by yourself. Instead, go to the closest medical facility.
Rinse the wound with antiseptic soap and clear, cool water. Gently wipe dry and apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain.
Next, cover it with a bandage if desired but always remember to keep this area clean; don’t scratch it.
If the wound is too itchy or painful to handle, take an oral antihistamine that contains either oral antihistamine or Benadryl (diphenhydramine), or an OTC pain reliever (such as Motrin IB, Advil, or ibuprofen).
If it is too swollen and red, try applying calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream.
When the patient has any severe symptoms as listed above, take him/her to the medical facility as soon as possible.
There are six common types of fly bites: stable flies, sand flies, horseflies, deer flies, black flies (also called buffalo gnats), and biting midges (also called gnats, punkies, or no-see-ums).
How to identify a fly sting: Small, raised, red bite-like bumps with a visible hole in the middle and red rashes are often found in the fly sting. These bumps/rashes appear mostly on the victim’s legs, behind the knees, ankles, and feet.
Common symptoms of mild to moderate reactions are redness, itching, and swelling (lymph node swelling if you’re bitten by black flies).
Severe symptoms happening in people who are allergic to fly sting are swelling on multiple body parts, breathing difficulties, weak feeling, and dizziness.
In most cases, you can treat fly stings at home. Start with rinsing the bitten area with antiseptic soap and water.
Then, apply an ice pack or cold compress on it.
For moderate reactions, you can try OTC hydrocortisone 1% or any topical corticosteroid while taking ibuprofen or any OTC anti-inflammatory medication to cut off the discomfort.
For severe reactions or if you feel hives, wheezing, swollen lymph nodes, extreme headaches, nausea, and fever, go to see your doctor immediately.
Mild to moderate reactions: Your skin appears bruise-like dark spots; multiple hard bumps (probably along with redness and itching) or small blisters appear within a day after you’re bitten; a slightly swelling, reddish and white bump appears instantly after being bitten.
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Immune system disorders
- Low-grade fever
- A large area of redness and swelling
Note: These symptoms are found in kids more than in adults
Most mosquito bites are able to heal in the next couple of days. If you have sensitive skin, try these extra home remedies to speed up the healing:
Rinse the wound with antiseptic soap and water, then apply an ice pack for 2-3 minutes. Apply and reapply a paste (a mixture of water and baking soda), non prescription hydrocortisone cream, or calamine lotion until the symptoms are gone.
For stronger reactions, take an OTC oral antihistamine.
Patients should go to their doctor or go to any medical facility if their bitten areas get signs of infection or they feel any of the severe symptoms stated above.
We tried our best to give you all the identifying signs, symptoms, and the right treatment for the sting of different insects with the hope that you’ll receive much helpful information for a better camping experience.
Hopefully, our article “How do you treat an insect sting while camping” comes in handy for all readers. Thanks for reading!