Bites & Stings
TRAIL|Issue 38
Life support medic ALET MAARTENS is a Gauteng-based trail runner with a few tips to keep you safe against summer bugs with big appetites or short tempers.
Alet Maartens

Spending time outdoors and especially on a trail brings us in close contact with all sorts of bugs and critters. And most of us are experts in the dance moves that come from running face-first into a spiderweb.

The question is, how do we deal with those bites and stings on a run?

If you get stung or bitten midrun, you probably won't have the chance to accurately identify the critter who took a bite of your arm, ankle, or forehead. The easiest way to deal with it, is to look at the signs and symptoms and treat accordingly.

Signs and symptoms

Look out for these signs that you've had an encounter with an angry insect:

• Redness

• Swelling

• Pain

• Itching

• Burning sensation

• Stinger still attached to the site

First aid

Be prepared for the unpleasantness by having a few key items on hand to treat the injury.

• If you can still see the stinger, gently scrape it off with a flat object (like a credit card). Avoid using tweezers (but see tick advice, right) or fingernails to pull it out.

• Wash the area as soon as possible.

• Apply antihistamine cream.

• Apply a cold compress to the area to reduce swilling and itching.

What about tick bites?

The danger of a tick bite isn't the minute amount of blood lost, but the risk that they inject you with pathogens via their saliva. Tick bite fever is common in South Africa.

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