By Julie Busch, M.D.
Family Medicine Specialist
St. Anthony’s Medical Center
Mosquitoes and ticks aren’t the only pesky insects in Missouri. Spiders and bees also can prove hazardous to your summer fun.
While spider bites are rare and usually harmless, the Brown Recluse spider poses a real threat to people it bites. If one bites you and there is a red, circular area around the bite with a black depression in the center, this is a signal that you may need medical treatment. For any spider bite, wash the area carefully with soap and water two to three times a day until skin is healed, and then apply an antibiotic ointment. Apply cool compresses for swelling and take acetaminophen for pain.
More painful and potentially more dangerous are the stings inflicted by bees, wasps and hornets. An insect’s stinger can safely be removed from the skin with a tweezers by grasping the stinger close to the skin and pulling gently. Squeezing any part of the insect that may still be attached to the stinger may force additional toxins into the body. After the stinger is removed, the affected area should be thoroughly cleaned. A cold compress and an application of hydrocortisone cream will help reduce swelling and soothe the pain.
The greatest danger from stinging insects is for individuals who are allergic to the insect’s venom. They may exhibit labored breathing, wheezing, fainting and dizziness and go into shock within minutes. If any of these symptoms occur, call 911 and seek emergency care immediately.
If any insect bite or sting causes enough swelling or pain to distract you from your normal activities or keep you awake at night despite basic treatment, see your physician.
Dr. Julie Busch, a family practitioner, is a member of St. Anthony’s Physician Organization. She practices at Kirkwood Family Medicine, 10296 Big Bend Blvd., 314-543-5943. For a referral to any St. Anthony’s physician, call 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 1-800-554-9550.