Health and Lifestyle for the over 50s

Insect Bites and Stings Whilst on Holiday: What to Watch Out For and How to Stay Safe

Posted by The Best of Health
Categories: Travel Health / Health and Wellbeing /

insect-bites-and-stings-195161429Insects are fascinating creatures, and many are integral to the survival of the planet. However, wonderful though these six or eight legged creepy-crawlies may be, they’re not so well received when insect bites threaten to ruin your holiday!

In fact, being bitten or stung whilst on your travels can really put a dampener on things. From irritating bed-bugs to potentially life-threatening mosquitoes, here’s a quick guide to some of the world’s most prevalent insects, and how to protect yourself against them.

The Problem-Bugs You Might Encounter Abroad

  1. Mosquitoes are the most common type of pest that travellers encounter whilst on holiday. Mosquitoes thrive in the heat, so it’s likely you’ll encounter them if you’re going anywhere warm.At best, mosquito bites can be itchy and a little bit sore. At worst, they can carry malaria, which can be life-threatening. If you’re going to a more exotic location, such as Africa or Asia, it’s vital to check with a travel doctor whether there is malaria in the area you’re visiting. If there is, you’ll need to take anti-malarial medication, such as Malarone. Even if the mosquitoes are malaria-free, you can deter them by using a DEET spray, or lemon-based natural spray.
  1. Bees and wasps. These insects can be a real nuisance when you’re eating abroad. However, in limited numbers, they’re nothing to be worried about. It’s important to remain calm if a bee or wasp is nearby, as flapping your arms and making noise is likely to make them feel under attack, which can increase the chances of you getting stung. If you’re allergic to bee stings, it’s vital to take the necessary medication with you when travelling, just in case.
  1. Depending on what part of the world you’re visiting, you may encounter poisonous spiders, such as the Black Widow in parts of North America, or the Funnel-web spider in Australia. Whilst these arachnids are highly poisonous, it’s important to remember that they’re generally either quite shy and retiring, or living in locations far away from humans!If you do encounter one, it goes without saying that you should move away swiftly, and if you require assistance removing it, seek expert help. If you are one of the very rare people who does get bitten, remember to take a photo of the spider if possible, as this will help the hospital provide the right antidote quickly.
  1. Bed bugs. Bed bugs can be found across the world, and don’t make the mistake of thinking they only live in budget hostels! If you suspect your hotel bed may have bed bugs, lift up the sheets and look for any evidence of tiny blood stains, which could indicate a previous inhabitant has been bitten. Look also for any dark damp patches, which may be the insects’ faecal matter. Bites tend to appear as a cluster of tiny, itchy marks on your leg. Don’t worry, they’re not harmful, but it’s important to ask to change rooms if you experience it, as otherwise you’re likely to be bitten again.

Stay Safe… and Realistic!

Remember that bugs are generally nothing to worry about; and most insect bites or stings will only be a minor irritation and nothing more. To ease the itchiness or discomfort associated with bites, remember to bring some bite-relief medication and some antiseptic cream, to prevent infection.

It’s also advisable to bring mosquito repellent and relevant medication if you’re allergic to any type of insect sting.

* http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Bites-insect/Pages/Introduction.aspx

* http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/newsevents/news/2014/insect_repellents_awareness.html

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