YOU know it’s summer when you can’t enjoy a drink outdoors without wasps buzzing about the rim of your glass and swarms of midges rising up to get you as the sun goes down.

Whether they fly, crawl or hop, bugs and beasties tend to be much more active in the warmer months.

Most bites and stings leave a red, swollen lump which may be very sore or itchy, but it usually goes away on its own within a few hours or at most a few days.

Generally all you need to do is clean the area and apply something cold to reduce any swelling, if things continue to irritate it’s always worth having a chat with your local pharmacist, they’re there to help.

But if that bite is getting redder, if things are starting to swell even more you can always call NHS 111 and get some more advice.

Only for a minority of people are insect bites and stings extremely dangerous, severe reactions called anaphylaxis can occur, so always seek emergency medical attention (call 999) if someone is struggling to breathe or swallow, has a swollen, face, mouth or throat, feels faint or has lost consciousness.

And if you know you are one of those people that gets this type of reaction then make sure you have your adrenaline pens with you if you go out, check they are in date and check with your GP if your kids (who have a habit of growing up too fast) still have the correct dose of adrenaline in their adrenaline auto-injector.

There are simple things you can do to protect yourself from those wee beasties this summer.

For starters, don’t panic around bees, and wasps and definitely don’t wave your arms or swat at them. Just remain calm and move away.

Avoid products with strong perfumes, as these can attract insects, and perhaps use a repellent, and always have a quick look at your beer glass before you take another sip.

Ticks can be particularly problematic as they can spread Lyme disease especially if you don’t notice them in time, so avoid walking through long grass unless you have shoes, socks and trousers on.

If you do get a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to pull it out by the head, from as close to the skin as possible. I’ve removed two this week already, one from a patient and one from my dog Archie. Don’t panic they’re easy to remove, just remember not to grasp the tick by its body and squeeze or crush it, or leave the head attached.

The risk of contracting Lyme disease is low, especially if you get the tick out straight away but if you feel unwell, or develop a red ring around the area, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Dr Jeff Stoker is a local GP at the Bermuda and Marlowe Practice in Basingstoke, with over 20 years’ experience in the NHS.


Useful links:

NHS Choices Bites and Stings -

Anaphylaxis Campaign Supporting People with severe allergies -