Urgent warning over insect bites and stings – symptoms & when to get emergency help

Urgent warning over insect bites and stings - symptoms & when to get emergency help

THE HSE has alerted the public about when to get emergency help for insect bites and stings as temperatures rise across Ireland.

They said people are likely to get bitten or stung in “warmer weather” – and issued advice on their Twitter page as the country heats up.

Bites and stings cause a red swollen lump under the skin for most people


Bites and stings cause a red swollen lump under the skin for most peopleCredit: Getty Images – Getty
You're more likely to be stung when the sun is out


You’re more likely to be stung when the sun is outCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Bugs that bite or sting include wasps, hornets, bees, horseflies, ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, bedbugs, spiders and midges.

For most people, bites and stings will cause a red swollen lump under the skin and can be “painful and very itchy”.

Although a lot of incidents are not serious and improve within a few hours – it is important to “immediately” call 999 or 112 for severe reactions.

The HSE said: “Most insect bites and stings are not serious and will get better within a few hours or days.

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“But occasionally they can become infected, cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) and spread serious illnesses such as Lyme disease and malaria.”

“Dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance immediately if you or someone else has symptoms of a severe reaction, such as:

  • wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • a swollen face, mouth or throat
  • feeling sick or being sick
  • a fast heart rate
  • dizziness or feeling faint
  • difficulty swallowing
  • loss of consciousness

Emergency treatment in hospital is needed in these cases.”

Meanwhile, the HSE has also issued advice on how to prevent food poisoning for people planning to get grilling on barbecues this weekend.

Most read in The Irish Sun

Health bosses are urging the public to cook and store their food properly to avoid illness.

Food poisoning is a common infection most commonly associated with eating food contaminated by harmful bacteria.

Food poisoning is not usually serious, however side effects can be extremely uncomfortable and complications associated with infection, like dehydration can prove dangerous.

Foods can become contaminated if it’s:

  • not cooked or reheated properly
  • not stored correctly
  • handled by someone who is ill or has not washed their hands
  • eaten after its use by date

Food can also become contaminated if it’s left outside for too long, which is common when barbecuing.

Foods of particular risk include:

  • raw meat and poultry
  • raw shellfish
  • ready to eat foods like sliced meats, pâté, soft cheeses and pre-packed sandwiches


THE HSE has shared advice on how to treat an insect bite or sting.

  • remove the sting or tick if it’s still in the skin
  • wash the affected area with soap and water
  • apply a cold compress, such as a cloth cooled with cold water or an ice pack to any swelling for at least 10 minutes
  • raise or elevate the affected area if possible, as this can help reduce swelling
  • avoid scratching the area, to reduce the risk of infection
  • avoid traditional home remedies, such as vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, as they’re unlikely to help

The pain, swelling and itchiness can sometimes last a few days. Ask your pharmacist about medicines that can help. For example painkillers, creams for itching and antihistamines.

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Symptoms of food poisoning usually start a day or two after eating contaminated foods.

However, this can vary from a few hours to a few weeks after infection.

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