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April 24, 1972

Immediate Treatment Of Insect Stings

JAMA. 1972;220(4):585-586. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200040097026

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To the Editor.—  The stings of insects and other arthropods are painful enough in most cases to warrant treatment even if their only serious effect—an anaphylactic reaction—is not present. The basic rule that the commonest conditions are apt to be the least manageable ones operates here: cold compresses are about the most potent remedy suggested by textbooks.There is, however, an immediately effective remedy for such lesions, available in most kitchens: meat tenderizer.The effectiveness of this material, applied in a dilute solution of tap water, prepared on the spot by mixing a quarter-teaspoonful or so with a teaspoonful or two of water, presumably depends on its content of papain. This proteolytic enzyme probably breaks down the venoms and kinins injected by the insect. The solution is merely rubbed into the skin at the site of the sting, and virtually all pain stops within seconds.Stings not treated immediately in