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Insect bites and stings surge: Searches for NHS advice triple


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Visit your local pharmacy for advice and treatment of common health conditions, including infected insect bites

Insect bites and stings typically increase in the summer in England. This year, however, there’s been an earlier-than-usual spike in the number of people seeking NHS advice on the condition.

According to the NHS England, visits to its insect bites and stings web page have nearly tripled in the last three weeks compared to the same period last year, peaking at an average of one visit every 22 seconds in the past week.

Over the span of 21 days, a total of 68,986 visited the page, marking a significant 162 per cent increase compared to the 26,368 visits recorded in the first three weeks of May 2023.

Although insect bites or stings are usually not serious and people tend to get better after a few days, the health service has cautioned that they can lead to infection or severe allergic reactions.

People are encouraged to refer to the NHS website for advice or visit their local pharmacy to get advice and treatment for common health conditions, including infected insect bites.

Since February, over 90 per cent of pharmacies in England have been providing treatment for seven common health conditions under the new Pharmacy First service. These conditions include infected insect bites, sinusitis, sore throats, earache, impetigo.

Acosia Nyanin, NHSE’s Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, said: “We often see a rise in insect bites and stings during the summer months, but the number of people seeking advice from the NHS website has spiked a bit earlier this year.

“The NHS website is there for anyone who needs it throughout the bank holiday weekend – whether you’re searching for advice on insect bites or thousands of other medical conditions.”

The insect bites and stings page on provides information on how to relieve symptoms. It suggests using ice packs to reduce swelling and antihistamines for relieving itching and managing pain – all of which are available from a pharmacist.

Additionally, the page provides advice on how to identify different bites and stings, along with tips for safely removing stingers, ticks and caterpillars.

People are advised to watch out for warning signs including a skin rash, difficulty breathing, wheezing and a swollen tongue or face, and those experiencing these symptoms are urged to dial 999 for immediate assistance.







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