Stings: how are they treated?

Stings by arthropods or jellyfish are a frequent topic during the summer months in the dermatologist’s office. This is understandable due to the fact that at this time of the year we are exposed to the outdoors for longer periods of time and we do not wear clothes, so we leave most of the skin surface uncovered.

When we suffer a normal or mild sting, we can apply soothing creams or lotions that relieve the annoying itching. However, the most effective in the early stages of lesion appearance is the early use of topical corticosteroids.

Although in most cases the stings are simply annoying and temporary, sometimes they can become complicated.

Bacterial superinfection is a relatively frequent complication, favored by scratching. The germs involved are usually those that are common in bacterial skin infections. Superinfection of a bite should be suspected when the appearance of the bite worsens: redness, swelling and pain increase or the lesion oozes pus. The way to combat an infection of this type is by topical antibiotics in most cases, although sometimes oral antibiotics are necessary.

It should not be forgotten that bites can be a form of disease transmission, in this case it is said that the agent causing the bite acts as a vector, since it “transports” and inoculates the germ causing the infection. They may be serious diseases that require specific treatment.

In some people, stings produce exaggerated inflammatory reactions, which may be limited to the area of the sting or extend beyond. This often depends on the special immune response of the individual and not so much on the agent causing the bite. Sometimes these inflammatory reactions are persistent and may present in the form of flare-ups. In these cases, a dermatological assessment and appropriate treatment over time is required.

A dreaded complication of stings is severe acute allergic reaction, which can even be fatal. We have all heard of serious cases associated with wasp or bee stings. It should be suspected if general malaise, loss of consciousness, respiratory distress, dizziness and generalized skin lesions appear after the sting. In these cases it is essential to go to the Emergency Room as soon as possible in order to receive the appropriate treatment as soon as possible. Patients with this known allergy are usually prepared with self-administered adrenaline, which is the medication needed to overcome a severe reaction.

The best way to avoid bites is to wear protective clothing and use appropriate repellents. When you plan to stay outdoors in a rural or country environment, it is advisable to wear closed shoes, high socks and long sleeves and legs. Repellents can be applied to exposed skin and some to clothing.