Nurses in Powys are issuing advice on how to treat insect bites and stings after swarms of people have contacted Minor Injury Units across the county.
The way the public accesses NHS services has changed. As part of its Help Us Help You campaign, the Welsh Government is encouraging people to get to know the breadth of NHS services and options available to them before seeking medical treatment.
Claudia O’Shea is the Senior Manager of Unscheduled Care at Powys Teaching Health Board. She says:
“We have had a lot of enquiries and visits to Minor Injury Units from people with insect bites and stings this summer. Yet most bites and stings result in a mild skin reaction that can be easily treated at home.”
Claudia has the following advice:
• Apply cold compress
• Take a painkiller
• Take an Antihistamine tablet or cream for itch
• If you have been stung – remove it by scraping not plucking
Some people will develop a mild allergic reaction to the sting:
“In some cases, you will start to see swelling at the site of the sting,” says Claudia. “This may increase over several hours and will gradually go away over a few days. If this happens, take an antihistamine as soon as possible and continue to do so until the swelling reduces. You can apply a cold compress to the area and take painkillers. Local pharmacists can recommend medicines.”
In most cases, it is not necessary to see your GP or visit a Minor Injury Unit. Itchiness and redness is normal and can last up to 10 days. However, Claudia warns that if the area begins to look infected, it is time to seek medical help. Signs of infection only tend to develop after the first 48 hours and symptoms are redness, feeling hot, swelling and pus.
It is also possible for some people to have a severe allergic reaction to a sting - most often wasp stings. Claudia warns:
“This is life threatening and is called anaphylaxis. Quick treatment is needed as it usually happens very quickly, often within 10 minutes of being stung. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include itchy skin, a blotchy rash, swelling of the face, mouth, lips and airway, a fast pulse and low blood pressure causing you to feel faint, stomach cramps and feeling sick.
“The advice in this situation is to call 999 immediately and if you have an adrenaline pen, use it straight away,” says Claudia.
Powys Teaching Health Board also recommends being aware of what a tick bite looks like:
“A circular or oval rash around a bite can be an early symptom of Lyme disease which is spread to human through bites from infected ticks. The rash usually appears within one to four weeks but can also take up to three months. You can safely remove a tick yourself; just visit the NHS website for advice.”
Powys Teaching Health Board is also reminding patients that symptoms can be checked online and advice can be sought at NHS 111 Wales.
To find out more about Minor Injury services, please visit https://pthb.nhs.wales/services/urgent-care-services/choose-minor-injury-unit/