How to soothe insect bites

Ok, we get it. It’s hot outside.

Beyond the sweat soaked shirts and not being able to find a bag of ice in a five mile radius, the weather brings some other problems.

In particular, tiny little insects. You never see them – but they always manage to leave a mark.

Whether it’s from long afternoons in the park or just leaving your bedroom window open, getting bitten it usually nothing to worry about – but it is annoying when you can’t stop thinking about the throbbing lump on your arm that you’re desperate to scratch.

You can probably find something to help at your local pharmacy or even in your kitchen cupboard but if you start to have difficulty breathing, feel faint or dizzy, start to swell or if your heartbeat starts to raise – you should call 999 immediately.

Shamir Patel, leading pharmacist and founder of Chemist 4 U has some advice for how to treat the standard bite: ‘Most bites will cause mild irritation, the bitten area may be red and raised and is normally itchy.

‘Once you notice you’ve been bitten or stung, you should disinfect the area immediately. In the case that there is a stinger still in your skin, this should be removed as soon as possible with sterilised tweezers. If you don’t have a sterilising solution to hand, boiling water will kill most germs.

‘You should then wash the area again with soap and water and make sure not to cover it up.’

For most bites or stings, a cool compress, like a damp flannel or an ice block wrapped in a towel can help.

Shamir adds that there’s a few things you can get from the pharmacy to sooth itchiness. He says: ‘If it’s itchy, you can take an antihistamine to help reduce those symptoms.

‘After you’ve immediately cared for your bite or sting, you should apply hydrocortisone or a calamine lotion every day for a few days and this should help maintain symptoms and support the bite’s healing.’

Remedies like raw honey or witch hazel rubbed on the bite can also reduce swelling and pain. Peppermint oil can also have a cooling effect to reduce irritation.

Another home remedy to try is crushed up aspirin tablets. It contains acetylsalicylic acid which relieves pain. Just crumble two tablets into a small amount of water to create a paste. Rub it on the area and wash it off after a few minutes.

Aloe vera plant is also great for summer – you can keep a plant on your window and cut the leaves open or buy it in tubes. It helps to reduce itchiness and pain with bites and is great for sun burn too.

Of course, if you notice any signs of infection, you should stop treating it and see a doctor.

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