Searches for NHS advice on insect bites and stings surge ahead of bank holiday weekend

The number of people seeking advice on insect bites and stings from the NHS website has surged ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

Analysis by NHS England, which runs the website, found visits to the insect bites and stings page have nearly tripled in the last three weeks compared to the same period last year – peaking at one visit every 22 seconds in the past week.

The page has received a total of 68,986 visits in 21 days – 162% higher than the 26,368 visits to the advice in the first three weeks of May 2023.

Insect bites or stings are not usually serious and get better after a few days, but they can cause infection or serious allergic reaction.

Anyone seeking medical advice over the bank holiday weekend can refer to the NHS website for advice on almost 1,000 conditions.

Patients can also get advice and treatment for common health conditions at their local pharmacy. More than nine in ten pharmacies have been offering treatment for infected insect bites, sinusitis, sore throats, earache, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women (under the age of 65) since February.

Acosia Nyanin, NHS England’s Deputy 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 spiked a bit earlier this year.

“The NHS website is there for anyone who needs it throughout the bank holiday weekend – whether you’re searching for advice on insect bites or thousands of other medical conditions.

“For non-urgent medical help people can contact NHS 111 and those in life threatening emergencies should call 999.”

The 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, ticks and caterpillars.

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 website is the UK’s biggest health website with an estimated 2.1 million visits a day in 2023 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 insect bites and stings page.