How to treat insect bites and stings in the wilderness

By Stef Zisovska
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How to treat insect bites and stings in the wilderness

Stef Zisovska
 
 
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Insect bites in a survival situation are a serious danger. The main problem with them is not the skin irritation, but the numerous diseases they can transmit. If you are an international traveler, you need to be even more careful because some of the diseases can cause fatal allergic reactions. The best ways to prevent insect bites and stings include using strong insect repellents, vaccinations, sleeping under a net, and wearing long sleeves and trousers all the time.

If you still get bitten or stung, don’t scratch the spot if you want to avoid infection. Check your body every morning to see if there are any insects attached to your skin. If you find a tick, apply oil, tree sap or vaseline which will cut off the insect’s air supply and then remove it slowly.

Bee and wasp stings

Bee sting. The stinger is torn off and left in the skin – Author: Waugsberg – CC BY-SA 3.0
Bee sting. The stinger is torn off and left in the skin – Author: Waugsberg – CC BY-SA 3.0

If stung by a bee, remove the venom stinger immediately and wash the place with soap and water to prevent secondary irritations. Don’t squeeze the stinger because it can release more venom directly into the wound. Remove it with your fingernails, a knife or other sharp object. If you are allergic to stings, always carry an anti-venom injection while traveling. Also, learn about all the natural remedies that can help you out in case you find yourself in a survival situation and there is no medical help immediately available.

To lower the effect of the venom, and calm the irritated skin you should apply one of these natural remedies: a paste made of mud and ashes, crushed garlic cloves, onions, coconut meat or dandelion sap. If by any chance you have some lipstick in your survival kit, you can apply it to the bite as well. It may sound ridiculous, but it does help, especially if you are allergic.

Spider Bites

Black  widow

 

Typical female from California – Author: Steve Ryan – CC BY-SA 2.0
Typical female from California – Author: Steve Ryan – CC BY-SA 2.0

Black widow spiders are found all over the US, but mostly in the southern and the western parts. The male widow spiders are significantly smaller and not that aggressive. However, the females contain more venom and will bite you if you disturb their web or they feel threatened. The female widow is easy to recognize because it’s dark color and distinctive red mark on the belly. The bite is not painful at first but after a few hours you will start feeling an intense pain, chills, fever, muscle cramps, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal pain.

Brown spiders

 

This brown recluse or violin spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is a species of spider native to North America – Author: Rosa Pineda – CC BY-SA 3.0
This brown recluse or violin spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is a species of spider native to North America – Author: Rosa Pineda – CC BY-SA 3.0

Brown recluse spiders are more common than the black widow, and we usually find them in attics or basements where they nest among the old boxes and furniture. The brown recluse spider has a violin-shaped mark on the head, and its bite produces skin irritation, blisters, nausea, and a slight fever. Its venom is not as dangerous, but this spider group is more numerous than the black widow. The south-central and the mid-western states are where the brown recluse spiders most common.

If there is no medical help around when you get bitten by a spider, the first thing you should do is to wash the spot with soap and water. If the bite is located on one of your limbs and you suspect it was a black widow who caused it, elevate the limb immediately and tie a bandage above the bite to stop the venom spreading. A cool compress helps a lot in calming down the irritated skin. If you don’t have any ice near, use a cloth dampened with cold water. Also, it’s recommended to take aspirin or antihistamine as soon as possible.

If the symptoms continue to develop over the next 24 hours, then you should seek medical help. What’s important is to detect bites right away and treat them in good time. Good luck!

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