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Comment réagir face à une piqûre d’insecte ?

How to respond to an insect bite?

During forest outings, outdoor activities, and evenings spent outside, the skin is exposed to insect bites and stings. It is possible to protect oneself, but the risks are always present. Follow our advice to know how to respond after an insect bite.

Why do some insects sting or bite?

During the summer season, the heat promotes the significant presence of various types of insects. Most of these insects sting or bite to defend themselves or their territory. Generally, this situation occurs when we get too close to them and/or make sudden movements. They then perceive a threat and defend themselves by stinging.

Furthermore, certain insects such as mosquitoes and ticks bite and sting for nourishment. For instance, in mosquitoes, only the females bite to feed on human blood for reproduction purposes.

Some bites are completely painless (such as those from mosquitoes) while others can be painful. Generally, an allergic reaction occurs in response to the venom deposited by the labrum (the insect's mouth) or its stinger.

The vast majority of insect bites are benign and the discomfort they cause is minor. However, in cases of allergy to an insect's venom and depending on the location of the bite, some bites can be severe or even fatal.

What are the risks of an insect bite?

The risks vary depending on the insect involved and the area bitten. Generally, bites and/or stings cause redness, inflammation, itching, or pain.

  • Bee, Wasp, and Hornet Stings

    These insects use their stingers to pierce the skin and inject venom. The risks then depend on the amount of venom injected and also the exposed area. Typically, the sting causes a redness to appear on the stung part. Then, this red area will harden, swell, and sometimes itch. All of this will disappear after a few hours, except in the case of an allergy where the stings can cause a anaphylactic shock or a Quincke's edema, two physical manifestations that can be fatal.

  • Mosquito Bites

    They are generally not painful but they itch a lot. They take the form of small, round, swollen bumps and appear shortly after the bite. In tropical regions, certain varieties of mosquitoes, such as the tiger mosquito, can transmit various diseases through their bites (yellow fever, malaria, dengue, etc.).

  • Tick Bites

    They are identifiable as they form unusual black spots on the skin. These spots are actually the bodies of ticks, their heads are embedded under the skin to better suck blood. Their bites can transmit various diseases, including Lyme disease, which is linked to an infection by the bacteria Borrelia. After spending time in nature, it is therefore important to thoroughly check one's body and skin to detect any ticks.

How to respond in case of an insect bite?

The appropriate responses to insect bites can also vary depending on the specific insect involved.

  • Bee, Wasp, and Hornet Stings

    The first instinct should be to remove the stinger by lightly scraping it with a fingernail, a plastic card, or the back of a knife. To identify the stinger, it resembles a black dot on the skin. It takes about a minute to empty its venom. It is crucial not to use tweezers, which could squeeze the stinger and thus spread more venom into the body. Once the stinger is removed, it is recommended to disinfect the sting using an antiseptic solution to limit the risk of infection.

    Caution, if the sting occurs in the throat or on the tongue, it is necessary to immediately call for emergency assistance or go to the emergency room, as this can hinder breathing.

  • Mosquito Bites

    Mosquito bites cause itching, but it is crucial not to scratch to prevent spreading the inflammation. It is better to place a cold compress, an ice cube, or a chilled cloth over it. The cold soothes the itching for a while.

    Tip: apply a bandage over the mosquito bite to prevent scratching.

  • Tick Bites

    Thesemites feed on the blood of other living beings. They are particularly active from May to October and are mainly found in tall grasses and ferns, around the edges of forests.

    Thus, after spending time in nature, it's important to examine your skin. If you notice a raised black spot, it could potentially be a tick. To remove it, gently grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it out slowly but firmly. To avoid breaking the mouthparts (the rostrum) and leaving the head under the skin, a circular motion should be used. This pulling-rotating motion, performed perpendicular to the skin, allows for the complete removal of the tick. It is entirely possible to ask your pharmacist to perform this procedure, to ensure it is done with precision.

    Let's remember that a tick bite is not dangerous,provided it is addressed in a timely manner!

When should one seek consultation?

Most insect bites and stings are harmless. However, if the redness continues to spread and becomes very painful, it is necessary to consult your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.

Furthermore, if symptoms such as chills, sweating, drop in blood pressure, discomfort, vomiting appear, it is better to contact emergency services.

In conclusion, after an insect bite, it is always better to remain vigilant to the slightest symptoms. If you have any doubt about the severity of the bite/sting, do not hesitate to consult your primary care physician!

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