Ask the expert: When does an insect bite need medical attention in Singapore?

Ask the expert: When does an insect bite need medical attention in Singapore?
PHOTO: Unsplash

What are the signs to look out for when you get an insect bite?

Dr. Sin Ru Phua from International Medical Clinic answers your questions…

Although insect bites or stings can cause irritation, redness, pain or itching, most of the symptoms can be managed at home and settle within a few hours or days.

Most insect bites are not serious and usually are resolved with no problems. Occasionally, insect bites can cause infections, give rise to serious allergic reactions and transmit diseases.

How do I treat insect bites?

If there is a sting present, gently remove the sting and wash the area with soap and water. Put a cold pack on the area for 10 to 15 minutes to help reduce any red swelling or itching.

Antihistamines are also helpful to settle these mild allergic reactions. Avoid scratching or aggravating the bite to reduce the risk of infection and cause further adverse reactions.

When should I seek medical attention?

Seek medical attention when the bite has not improved or worsened after a few days. Look out for symptoms like:

  • Redness and swelling around the bite which may or may not include pus – pus can be an indication of infection, in which case antibiotics may be needed for treatment.
  • A spreading rash with a worsening itch.
  • A generalised infection, where one feels unwell – with fever, flu-like symptoms or the presence of swollen glands.

When does a bite become an emergency?

In Singapore, call 995 for ambulance assistance if any of the following signs of severe allergic reaction occur:

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing or hoarseness of voice
  • Severe swelling of the tongue, mouth, eyes, throat and/or face
  • A choking sensation, and/or tightness in the chest or throat
  • Dizziness, loss of consciousness, a fast heart rate, nausea and/or vomiting

Seek immediate medical attention if there were previous severe allergic reactions to similar bites or stings. Individuals who had previous severe allergic reactions are usually prescribed medication to be used in such situations.

Dr. Sin Ru Phua has been with International Medical Clinic for more than 17 years.

Dr. Phua trained in Australia and combines being a family physician with a special interest in dermatology, having received a Diploma of Dermatology from the National University of Singapore. She is based at IMC Camden

International Medical Clinic (IMC)
IMC Camden, 14th floor, Camden Medical Centre, 1 Orchard Boulevard, 248649
Tel: 67334440
Other IMC locations include IMC Jelita (near Holland Road), IMC Katong (East Coast)
and IMC Children’s (Orchard

This article was first published in The Finder.

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