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Boots pharmacist Angela Chalmers says: Barbecues, gardening, even just having your windows open – they all increase the risk of getting stung by wasps and bees at this time of year. Both stings cause an instant, burning pain that usually lasts a few seconds. Most reactions are mild, but the severity depends on where you’ve been stung – the face, stomach and hands are particularly sensitive. You’ll see a red, swollen mark, normally around half an inch across, which will be itchy and painful for several hours before it calms down. If you’ve been stung by a bee, a black sting will be left in the skin, which needs to be removed to prevent infection. Scrape it off using the edge of a credit card, rather than pinching it with fingers or tweezers, as this may spread the venom. Wasps tend not to leave a sting behind, but if they do, follow the same procedure.
Avoid attracting wasps and bees by not wearing sweet-scented fragrances or clothes with floral patterns
If you’re stung, try to keep still, as movement increases the spread of venom into the bloodstream, and apply an ice pack if possible. Wash the area with soap as soon as you can, to ward off infection. Oral antihistamines or hydrocortisone cream may help to reduce swelling or itching (always read the label, as some aren’t suitable for children). If the sting doesn’t calm down after a few hours and it goes on to develop pus, or you notice your glands are swollen, it may have become infected and you should see your GP.
Bees normally sting in self-defence, while wasps are more aggressive. Avoid attracting both by steering clear of sweet perfumes or clothes with bright, floral patterns. Wasps are attracted to food and drink, so apply a suitable insect repellent when eating outside. Always wear shoes, too; bare feet often get stung.
Very occasionally, a sting can trigger a serious allergic reaction, leading to anaphylaxis. Symptoms include swelling around the eyes, lips, tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, dizziness, rash, stomach cramps and even loss of consciousness. Cases like this are an emergency, so call 999.
SUMMER BITE AND STING SAVIOURS
Consider taking Benadryl Allergy Relief, £4.59/459 points (12 capsules; contains acrivastine; for ages 12+).Add
Boots Pharmaceuticals Derma Care Hydrocortisone 1% Ointment, £3.49/349 points; always read the label.Add
New AfterBite Kids, £4.49/449 points (20g), is a child-friendly, soothing cream. The non-stinging formula acts quickly, too, helping little ones get straight back to enjoying the outdoor fun!Add
‘On one of our camping holidays we were plagued by mozzies, so now we spray on insect repellent containing DEET, and light citronella candles* at dusk – they keep the insects away and look pretty, too!’ Helena Brandon, 28, Coventry
*Never leave a burning candle unattended.
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Boots Health & Beauty digital magazine is published by Redwood on behalf of Boots and built by Rhapsody Ltd. (c) Redwood Publishing Ltd 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form (including photocopying or storing it in any medium by electronic means) without the written permission of the copyright owner. Applications for the copyright owner’s permission to reproduce any part of this publication should be addressed to Redwood Ltd, Bankside 3, 90 Southwark Street, London SE1 0SW.
Group editor-in-chief Rachael Ashley Editor Helen Daly Associate editor Julia Martin Group art director Darren Siveter Senior art editor Louisa Edge Designer Mairead Gleeson Acting picture editor Francisco Ludovico Chief sub-editor Carrie Sizer Acting chief sub-editor Martina Walsh Acting deputy chief sub-editor Danielle Richardson Features director Danielle Hine Features writer Charlotte Grant-West Beauty director Donna Francis Editorial assistant Abbie-Joelle Skliarsky Business director Catherine Bourke Account director Sophie Horne Senior account manager Emma Ferguson Acting senior account manager Rachel Cramond Sales director Rachel Joy Senior advertising manager Michelle Daburn Senior sales executives Emily Plank, Jasmin Sangha Advertising creative manager Ana Jevric Print project manager Sammie McCarthy Chief executive Sara Cremer Executive creative director Paul Kurzeja Managing partner Clare Hersey Acting managing partner Taranjit Moore-Jones
For Boots Katie Barber, Katie Harrison and Fiona Lakin