ST JOHN Ambulance, the volunteer-led health charity, has teamed up with the Gazette to bring you some simple summer first aid tips.

This week, unit manager Joshua Hensman takes us through what to do when someone has a insect bite.

Insect stings can be painful but are not usually dangerous. However, if the insect sting is in the mouth or throat this can be more serious as it could lead to swelling of the airway and obstruction. Watch for signs of an allergic reaction, which can lead to anaphylactic shock.

What to look for:

  • Stinging pain, 
  • Redness,
  • Swelling,
  • Irritation,

What to do: 

  • Reassure the casualty. If you can see the sting, brush or scrape it off sideways with something firm like a fingernail, credit card or plastic ruler.
  • Don’t try to use tweezers to pull it out, because you could squeeze poison from the sting into the casualty.   
  • Raise the affected area and hold something cold against the injury to help reduce the swelling, like an ice pack or a frozen bag of vegetables wrapped in a tea towel.
  • Keep the cold compress on for at least 10 minutes.
  • If the sting is in the mouth or throat, the casualty can suck an ice cube or sip cold water to try to prevent any swelling.
  • Monitor their breathing and level of response.

For more free first aid advice go to St John Ambulance’s website at or download the free first aid app from your app store.

For information about volunteering with St John Ambulance, contact Joshua Hensman on