PCN Staff / PCMO

Insect bites and stings, UTIs, and Stress Management

Insect bites and stings:

Many types of insects and bugs can bite, ranging from mosquitoes to bedbugs.  Others can sting, such as bees, wasps, and fire ants.  Fortunately, most of the time reactions to bites and stings are minor, resulting in redness, itching or minor swelling.  To take care of these bites or stings, do the following to reduce the risk of infection and help alleviate the pain:

  • Wash the insect bite or sting with soap and clean, cool water.  If you are stung, make sure the stinger is no longer in your skin.  Remove the stinger by scraping back of a credit card or other straight-edged object across the stinger.  Do not use tweezers – these may squeeze the venom sac and increase the amount of venom released.
  • Keep the area clean and try not to scratch it.
  • Apply a cold, damp washcloth to reduce swelling.
  • Creams, gels, and lotions applied to the skin, such as calamine, can help, but avoid frequent use of numbing creams applied to the skin as these can increase the risk of skin sensitivity.

If an insect bite or sting doesn’t improve, or you see new symptoms, contact your PCMO.  If you experience any symptoms of serious allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing or noticing swelling around the face, call your PCMO right away.

Urinary tract infections:

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common type of infection affecting people in the U.S., resulting in about 8.1 million visits to health care providers each year.  Women are at greater risk of UTIs for anatomical reasons, and women have a lifetime risk of more than 50 percent of having a UTI.  About 20 percent of young women with a first UTI will have a recurrent infection.  Most UTIs are caused by bacteria that live in the bowel, such as E.coli.  Most UTIs are not serious if prompt treatment is received, but some infections can lead to serious problems such as kidney infections.

To try to prevent infections, you can:

  • Drink plenty of water every day (6-8, 8-ounce glasses a day)
  • Urinate when the need arises and avoid resisting the urge to urinate.
  • Urinate after sexual intercourse.
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes.
  • For women, wipe from front to back after using the toilet.
  • For women, consider switching from a diaphragm or spermicide to another birth control method if recurrent UTIs are a problem.  Talk to your PCOM about your birth control options.

If you develop symptoms of a UTI, such as frequent and intense urge to urinate and/or a painful, burning feeling in the bladder or urethra during urination, contact your PCMO right away.

Stress management apps:

Stress is a common problem for Volunteers and Trainees.  Talk to your PCMO if you need help managing stress related to work, relationships or other reasons.  In addition to speaking with your PCMO and using other coping skills to manage stress, consider downloading an app that uses evidence-based stress management techniques such as mindfulness and meditation and diaphragmatic breathing.  Here are three management apps that could be useful tools, n addition to working with your PCMO on addressing stress:

  • Breathe2Relax (Free; iOS and Android)
  • Cleveland Clinic Stress Free Now (Free; iOS)
  • Happify (Free; iOS and Android)