The number of people seeking advice on bites and stings from the NHS website is three times higher than last summer.
Analysis by NHS England, which runs the NHS.uk website, found monthly visits to the insect bites and stings page reached 261,364 in June 2023 – triple those seen in June 2022 when there were 86,984 visits, and more than double the number in June 2021 with 102,934.
The biggest spike was from 12 to 18 June 2023 when there were 91,630 weekly visits to the page – equivalent to one view every seven seconds.
Insect bites or stings are not usually serious and get better after a few days, but they can cause infection or serious allergic reaction.
Dame Ruth May, NHS England’s 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 really spiked this year, suggesting there has been a significant increase.
“The NHS.uk website is available 24 hours a day offering advice on a range of conditions including bites and stings. It provides tips on easing swelling and itching, as well as helping people identify more serious symptoms needing urgent medical attention.”
The NHS.uk insect bites and stings page details how to relieve symptoms including bringing down swelling using ice packs or reducing itching with antihistamines, as well as pain relief – all of which are available from a pharmacist.
It also offers advice on how to identify different bites and stings, as well as tips on removing stingers and ticks.
The page provides a list of warning signs to watch out for in case of emergency including a skin rash, difficulty breathing, wheezing and a swollen tongue or face, and urges people with those symptoms to call 999.
The NHS.uk website is the UK’s biggest health website with an estimated 2.6 million visits a day in 2022 from people seeking information and advice.
It includes over 4,000 pages and provides information about 990 medical conditions as well other health services including applying for a free UK Global Health Insurance Card for healthcare cover abroad, finding a GP, and a pregnancy due date calculator.
For more information visit the NHS.uk insect bites and stings page.