Summer means the sea, sunshine,
fresh air and fun. While it’s all good and well to make the most of the
outdoors, it does mean that we all need to be a little more cautious when it
comes to bites and stings.
One of the best ways to deal with
bites and stings is to take precautions to stop them happening in the first
place. Insect repellant is a smart choice, but there are a few other ways you can protect
outside, check all of your food and drink containers before you eat or drink
from them — some insects like wasps are attracted to food and drinks
you’re wearing shoes when you’re outside to protect your feet from insects
skin where possible, especially in the evenings or early mornings when insects
are particularly active
camping, avoid setting up near bodies of water like ponds, creeks or swamps
where mosquitos are commonly found
Stay out of
long grass and wear long pants if you will be around bushy areas
furniture, camping equipment and luggage a shake before using it
When it comes to bites and stings,
one of the most serious considerations is anaphylaxis or a severe allergic
Anaphylaxis is more likely to
happen as a result of an insect sting as opposed to a bite. This is because
allergies to venoms from stinging insects including bees, wasps and ants are one of the most common causes of anaphylaxis in Australia.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
the tongue, mouth or throat
nausea or vomiting
weak, collapsing or falling unconscious
Many people are aware that they
have anaphylaxis and will carry an EpiPen which can be injected in the event of a severe allergic reaction.
If you or one of your family members experiences any of the extreme symptoms
listed above, call 000 immediately.
Remember that if EpiPen usage is
required, urgent medical intervention is still required as the allergic
reaction could continue after the EpiPen wears off.
Venomous bites and stings
In the event of a bite from a
venomous snake, funnel-web spider, blue ring octopus or cone shell snail bite,
the first thing to do is call 000 for urgent medical attention.
These bites are treated with pressure immobilisation as first aid. This aims to keep as much venom
retained in the bite area as possible and stop the lymphatic system from
transporting it further into the bloodstream.
all movement of the affected area to slow the venom.
firm pressure bandage to the entire limb using an elastic bandage or clothing
strips. Do not make the bandage too tight, as this could cut off blood supply
going to the limb.
splint if available, or use items that you have around you, like a stick.
Do not try
to such out the venom or use a tourniquet.
medical attention to arrive.
Jellyfish and stonefish
In the event of an irukandji, box
jellyfish, morbakka and jimble jellyfish stings should be washed with lots of
Irukandji syndrome can develop
about 30-40 minutes after being stung by irukandji jellyfish. Symptoms include:
Stonefish stings should be washed
with hot water.
Call 000 immediately if stung by stonefish, box jellyfish or Irukandji
Stay calm and find a beach-side
shower near the carpark or the lifeguard tower. Wash the area with water that
is as hot as can be tolerated for twenty minutes. If the pain doesn’t go away,
remove from hot water and reimmerse for another twenty minutes. You can also
try taking Panadol to help relieve some of the discomfort until the pain
If the area starts to look worse,
continues to swell or you are experiencing fever, nausea or pain hours after
the sting, you should seek medical attention.
Bees and wasps
If the stinger is embedded into
your skin, it can be removed by scraping the area with your fingernail or a
flat object like a bank card, rather than brushing it off. This is to avoid
squeezing more venom into the skin.
Wash the area with soapy water and apply
a cold compress or ice pack to reduce the pain and swelling. If the itching
persists, you can apply a topical cream or take some antihistamine tablets. Visit your local Capital Chemist pharmacist to discuss which
treatment options may be right for you.
If you become unwell with a fever,
rash or joint pain following a mosquito bite you should seek medical advice as
soon as possible.
To relieve the itching, you can
apply an anti-itch cream or calamine lotion, both available at your pharmacy.
An ice pack wrapped in clean fabric can also be applied to help reduce the
As hard as it may be, try to resist
scratching. This can break the skin and potentially lead to an infection. In
severe cases, an antihistamine from your pharmacy will help.
Bites from different spiders
require different treatments. If possible, try to catch the spider so that you
can identify which kind of spider it is. This is beneficial for you as well as
any health professionals who may be required to provide you with assistance.
Wash the site of the bite with
soapy water, use an ice pack to relieve any pain or swelling and apply a
topical cream to relieve the itching.
It’s best to seek medical attention
as soon as possible because you may require an antivenom to ensure that no
severe reactions develop over time.
Your bites and stings toolkit
Your local Capital Chemist has a
range of products on hand to help prevent and treat bites and stings:
can help to reduce the itching
cream can reduce redness and inflammation
creams will numb the areas to relieve the pain
water resistant insect repellant can help to protect you from insects
can help to relieve pain and swelling
important to always have a fully-stocked first aid kit, including bandages and
creams. Be sure to have this in your home and to take it with you on your travels,
especially if you are camping, bush-walking or going to the beach.
Remember to tell your pharmacist
about any health conditions that you have or any medications that you are
taking, as some over-the-counter medicines may not be right for you.
See a doctor if:
sure which animal or insect caused the bite or sting
discomfort, such as pain, itching or burning is getting worse
becomes broken, weeping or looks infected
dizzy, nauseous, or are sweating a lot
Download our Bites & Stings Brochure
This information is for reference and education only.
If you have an emergency please call 000 immediately. For medical information
please call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26