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Bites & Stings

The more time you spend outside, the more exposed you are to bites and stings. From ticks and bees to jellyfish and stingrays, being bitten or stung isn’t just painful—it can also bring serious health risks. Here’s how you can stay safe on both turf and surf.
by Lorissa

Ticks and Lyme

Every year, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease—a bacterial infection transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick—are reported to the CDC. While only a small number of bites lead to Lyme, the risk increases the longer the tick is attached to your body. Ticks must be attached for 36 to 48 hours to transmit infection, so removing one within the first 24 hours reduces your risk of Lyme disease from a tick bite.

Minimizing Your Risk

While there’s no vaccine for Lyme, there are ways to reduce your exposure. Wear long pants, socks, and closed-toe shoes in wooded or grassy areas, which are high risk areas for Lyme disease. Tuck your pants into your shoes (relax, it’s not a fashion shoot!) and wear light-colored clothes, which make it easier to find ticks. After being in tick-prone areas, check your clothes, gear, pets, and your entire body, including hair, body folds, and any warm, moist areas—and if you have kids, check them, too. Use insect repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET, Picaridin 20%, or repellents that contain oil of Eucalyptus, IR3535, or 2-undecanone (not for use in young kids). Apply sunscreen first, then repellent. If you have a yard, consider fencing and planting deer-resistant plants.

What to do if you find a tick on you 

  1. Remove it ASAP using a pair of tweezers. Grab the tick by the head or mouth and pull it off in a steady, gentle motion. Avoid squeezing the body or leaving the mouthparts in the skin.
  2. Wash the area with soap and water.
  3. Dispose of the tick.
  4. Wash your hands.
  5. Call our 24/7 medical hotline for guidance.


So what do tick bites look like? A bullseye red rash occurs at the bite site within a month in 80% of those infected and can expand up to a foot in diameter. Since a tick bite is painless, it’s common to notice the rash without ever being aware a tick has bitten you. Other early symptoms of tick borne illnesses include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Later symptoms from a tick bite can include joint pain, abnormal heart rhythm, numbness, tingling, chest pain, or drooping on one side of the face, known as Bell’s Palsy.

Diagnosing and Treating Lyme

If you experience any of the above symptoms and believe you have had recent exposure to a tick, call our 24/7 hotline or visit your nearest Sollis Center, where our providers are trained in how to diagnose Lyme disease. If you’re wondering Can urgent care diagnose and treat Lyme disease?  Absolutely, Sollis can do both—right on the spot. While each case is different, treatment options can include observation at home, a one-time dose of an antibiotic, or antibiotic therapy for two to three weeks. Blood tests for Lyme antibodies turn positive about 14-28 days after initial exposure, and we recommend testing for those with symptoms. Even after successful treatment, you can still test positive for years.

If you have questions or concerns about anything from the risk factors of Lyme disease to what to do when you find a tick on you, we’re here to help, 24/7.


Most of the time, a bee (or a wasp/hornet) sting is nothing more than an annoyance that causes temporary pain. But for people who are allergic—about 1% of the population—it can trigger a severe reaction called anaphylaxis, which can lead to swelling of the throat and even heart failure. While fatalities are extremely rare—only about 100 Americans die of bee stings every year—people who experience anaphylaxis have a 25 to 65% chance of having it again the next time they’re stung.

What to do if you get stung by a bee

  1. Stay calm. Although bees usually only sting once, wasps and hornets can sting again. Walk away from the area to avoid additional attacks.
  2. Remove the stinger as quickly as possible. The longer it stays in the skin, the more venom it releases, which can add to pain and swelling. Scrape over it with your fingernail or a piece of gauze. Never use tweezers, as squeezing it can release more venom.
  3. Wash the area with soap and water.
  4. Apply a cold pack to reduce swelling. You can also use over-the-counter pain relievers, antihistamines, and topical creams to help with symptoms.
  5. If you have any concerns, call our 24/7 medical hotline for guidance.

Go to the ER immediately if the swelling moves to other parts of your body like your face or neck. Other signs of an allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, nausea, hives, and dizziness. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on anyone who has been stung for at least 12 hours, in case they develop more serious symptoms later on. If someone has been stung multiple times—particularly if he or she is a child—seek emergency medical attention.


Being stung by a jellyfish is practically a rite of passage for anyone who ventures into salt water (or even just onto the sand—jellies can sting while lying on the beach!). The sting is caused by long tentacles that inject venom from thousands of microscopic barbed stingers, which hurt and leave marks on the skin. While some stings can cause systemic illness, it depends on the size, age, and health of each person—as well as the type of jellyfish—and only in rare cases is it life-threatening.

What to do if you get stung by a jellyfish

  1. Rinse the affected area with seawater. Do not use fresh water, vinegar, or —no matter what you saw on “Friends”—urine.
  2. Pluck any visible tentacles with a fine set of tweezers. Do not try and scrape them, apply pressure, or rub them with a towel.
  3. Soak the skin in hot (but not scalding) water until the pain eases.
  4. Apply a .5% to 1% hydrocortisone cream or ointment to the affected area twice a day.
  5. If you have any concerns, call our 24/7 medical hotline for guidance. 
Call 911 or go the ER if someone has been stung inside the mouth or on the eye, the sting covers a large area, it looks infected, they have had past severe allergic reactions to jellyfish stings, are having trouble breathing or swallowing, their speech is slurred, they are weak or passed out, redness is spreading, or severe pain has not subsided after two hours.


Every year, roughly 2,000 people suffer injuries from stingrays in oceans and freshwater rivers. The sting comes from sharp spines on the ray’s tail that cut your skin and create an open wound that can become infected from bacteria in the water. Stingrays also release venom, which causes severe pain that peaks in about 90 minutes but can last as long as days or even weeks. Similar to stings from other animals, it can lead to anaphylaxis if someone is allergic.

What to do if you get stung by a stingray

  1. Wash the wound with warm or hot fresh water to remove any sand / debris and mitigate risk of infection.
  2. Check for fragments of the stingray’s spine, and if possible, remove them with tweezers. They should come out easily—do not pull hard.
  3. Soak the affected area in hot water.
  4. Take anti-inflammatory and/or pain relief medications as needed.
  5. If you have any concerns, call our 24/7 medical hotline for guidance.
Seek immediate medical care if someone is stung on the head, neck, chest, or abdomen (which could affect their vital organs), any stingray fragments are not visible or easily removed, the person is having trouble breathing, or they’re experiencing chest pain, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or seizures.
Sollis Health is a 24/7 doctor, private ER and concierge service rolled into one. Whether it’s an emergency or simply to diagnose the symptoms that you typically Google in the middle of the night, our emergency-trained doctors are ready for anything. Interested in becoming a Sollis member?


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