Surprisingly, there is no systematic research into how best to cope with mosquito bites and stings, although there are a few items that could aid
It’s the holidays, and we spend more time outside. Which means that the annoying and painful aspects of summer – bug bites and stings – are revealed to us.
At the pharmacy, there are a number of drugs available to treat them.
Others treat the initial bite or sting, others treat the after-effects of itchiness.
What about remedies that are natural? Few studies have looked at them in fact.
But if they work for you and don’t irritate the skin that’s already inflamed, then using them does not hurt.
Why bite and sting insects?
They either protect themselves or need something from us when insects bite and sting (like blood).
It may result in a painful or itchy reaction, often a serious allergic reaction, or even a crippling illness, whatever the motivation.
While insects get a bad rap sometimes, there are very few that actually pose a serious threat to our health.
Mosquitos and flies
Many species of flies bite, especially mosquitoes.
They need blood to eat or grow eggs in most instances. Between different fly species, the method of “biting” will differ. When a needle-like tube is inserted by mosquitoes to suck our blood, others chew our skin or rasp it.
There is also much to learn about how to handle the bites while researchers have researched what happens when mosquitoes strike.
That’s why avoiding mosquito bites is particularly important, since some of them can carry pathogens that make us sick. We still have a lot to learn about how mosquito bites should be handled.
Fleas, lice, ticks and mites.
There are also other insects that bite (like bed bugs, fleas, and lice) and other arthropods (like mites and ticks).
Based on the bite reaction alone, however, it is difficult to decide which insect has bitten us. Generally, this is because when they start sucking our blood, various individuals respond differently to the saliva they inject.
Bees, ants and wasps
Then there are insects that sting, such as bees, wasps, and ants. Typically, they are only protecting themselves.
But when they sting, the venom they inject is not only painful, but can also cause potentially serious allergic reactions.
What is the safest way for a sting or bite to be treated?
If you are having potentially serious allergic reactions from bites or stings, seek urgent medical attention. It is the initial unpleasant reaction and itchy after-effects for many other individuals that need treatment.
There is surprisingly little systematic research about how best to handle them, considering the fact that insect bites are so common.
Insect-borne diseases are the subject of much of the research.
There is no proof even for prescribed therapies that they really work.
Recommendations are, instead, focused on expert judgment and clinical knowledge.
Some general advice for treating insect bites and stings is provided by health authorities. This requires the use of pain-relieving drugs (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen). They also advise applying a cold compress (such as a cold pack, ice, or a damp cloth soaked in cold water) to the sting or bite site to relieve inflammation and reduce discomfort.
There is also specific advice for dealing with bites and removing ticks.
If you do nothing, the discomfort of the bite or sting will subside after a few days. The body recovers quickly, just like a cut or bruise.
If you have pain for more than a few days or there are signs of an allergic reaction, you should see a doctor.
What about the itching?
Once the initial pain has subsided, the itching begins. This is because the body is reacting to the saliva that is injected during the insect bite.
For many people, this is incredibly frustrating, and it’s all too easy to get caught in a cycle of itching and scratching.
In some cases, medications such as corticosteroid creams or antihistamines can help relieve the itching. You can buy these at the pharmacy.
Then there is Calamine lotion, which is used in many Australian households to treat the itching from insect bites.
But there are few studies that show it works.
Are there home remedies that work?
If you are on the su