The one tiny downside to having adventurous mini explorers is that sneaky dangers can be found on the most exciting of exploits – none more understated than the simple stinging nettle plant! These perennial weeds lurk in the garden, road side, borders or anywhere really as they are quite hardy pesky weeds! Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of fabulous traits of the nettle too with people using them to treat hayfever (ironic I know!), as a diuretic and more! Nettles are even good for the butterflies and your garden but it can be hard to remember these positive features when you have a wailing WonderBaba in your arms clutching a stung leg!
What happens when nettles sting?
Nettles have hair like structures on the edges of their leaves and stems which release chemicals when they brush off skin. This substance acts as an irritant. The rash that results from a nettle sting is known as urticaria which is characterised by the formation of red bumps or hives which are usually up to a cm in diameter and light in colour. The surrounding skin can be red and irritated and the discomfort from the rash usually occurs straight away after contact. It starts with a stinging sensation and remains itchy for a while afterwards. In most cases the rash will resolve within 24-48 hours – sooner if you use the tips I include below to soothe it! Obviously like with any allergic reaction its always important to keep a close eye on the patient/WonderBaba to ensure they remain well for a couple of days after a sting. It is very rare but it can happen that a child could suffer an anaphylactic reaction as a result of a nettle sting so any symptoms like shortness of breath, swelling of the mouth, tongue or throat, difficulty speaking or swallowing should all prompt an emergency response.
Tips to treat a nettle sting!
Most interestingly – and also most difficultly – don’t touch the rash for about ten minutes after a stings happens. This is because giving it ten minutes will allow the chemicals to dry onto the skin which can then be washed off. If the skin is rubbed or touched soon after then the chemicals are going to be spread deeper into the skin tissue and it will last longer and be more difficult to treat! I’m not saying that’s the easy solution… I hope your powers of distraction are up to the challenge!!
- Once ten minutes is up use water and soap to clean the irritant off the skin. If you are not able to get to a sink then a cloth with water will do (I’m thinking the sleeve of your jumper and that bottle of water you were sipping on!).
- Using tape by placing it on the skin and pulling it off will help remove any residual chemicals – I know my three WonderBabas make such an ordeal of taking a plaster off that this would be more traumatic than the sting – but for yourself it might be useful!
- Try to stop your child from itching the rash – give an antihistamine if appropriate (check out my blog on antihistamin choices for kids by clicking here!)
- Apply a cold compress to instantly soothe – avoid warm showers or baths.
- Use light cotton clothing to prevent irritation of the rash further.
Make a paste with baking soda and water and apply to ease discomfort.
- If your out and about you could try squishing up some Dock leaves and rubbing them on the skin – this is thought to work as the sap released from the vigorous rubbing soothes and cools the skin.
I hope this has been helpful! As always if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page or my website contact page or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262.