How to stop insect bites itching – 4 quick at-home remedies
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Hot, sunny weather has seen Brits head outside in droves this past weekend, enjoying BBQs, picnics and time with friends and family. However, one byproduct of spending time outside is potentially exposing yourself to bites from insects such as mosquitoes.
According to Rentokil, there are more than 30 native mosquito species in the UK, some of which bite (such as Culex molestus) and others like Culex pipiens which are just a general nuisance.
Those mosquitoes which do bite tend to do so at dawn and at dusk (twilight) in line with their internal body clock.
You may not feel the bites happen, but afterwards, they may swell up, redden and become very itchy.
While the majority of bites from insects don’t require any treatment from a doctor, the itching alone can be enough to drive you mad.
Read More: US scientists release thousands of genetically-modified mosquitoes
And scratching the bites only leads to them being itchier, as by scratching the skin can become even more inflamed.
The NHS advises if you have itching, pain or swelling after an insect bite or sting, the following treatments may help:
For pain or discomfort – take over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (children under 16 years of age shouldn’t be given aspirin).
For itching – ask your pharmacist about suitable treatments, including crotamiton cream or lotion, hydrocortisone cream or ointment and antihistamine tablets.
For swelling – try regularly applying a cold compress or ice pack to the affected area, or ask your pharmacist about treatments such as antihistamine tablets.
See your GP if these treatments don’t help. They may prescribe stronger medicines such as steroid tablets.
You can also try the following remedies at home
1. Use rubbing alcohol on the bite
If you notice a mosquito bite quickly after being bitten, wipe some rubbing alcohol over the area.
Not only will this clean the bite, but as the alcohol evaporates it has a cooling effect on your skin.
Try not to use too much, however, as alcohol can irritate and dry out your skin.
2. Cold tea bag
While many of us may have heard of using cold tea bags over eyes to prevent puffiness, you may not know they are actually a good remedy for bites.
Both green tea and black tea have anti-inflammatory properties and so when applied to a bite can help reduce swelling.
Simply soak the teabag in boiling water and then allow to cool before applying to any bites.
For an extra helping hand, pop the teabag in the fridge – the cold will help to soothe your bites.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel is versatile and can be used on all manner of ailments – from sunburn to spots.
As aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties, you can also use it to help with insect bites.
All you need to do is apply the gel to the area, and straight away you will notice the cooling feeling of the gel.
If you have aloe plants around the house, you can also cut a leaf and apply the gel directly to the affected area.
A slightly stickier method is to use honey on your insect bite.
Honey has antiseptic and antibacterial properties which can reduce inflammation and prevent infection.
Only put on while indoors, however, as the sweetness of honey can attract mosquitoes!
While midgie bites and bee stings don’t typically warrant medical attention, you should contact 111 or your GP if
- you’re worried about a bite or sting
- your symptoms don’t start to improve within a few days or are getting worse
- you’ve been stung or bitten in your mouth or throat, or near your eyes
- a large area (around 10cm or more patch of skin) around the bite becomes red and swollen – your GP may refer you to an allergy clinic for further tests or treatment (read about treating allergies)
- you have symptoms of a wound infection, such as pus or increasing pain, swelling or redness – you may need antibiotics
- you have symptoms of a more widespread infection, such as a fever, swollen glands and other flu-like symptoms
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