Insect Bites – Symptoms, Treatment, Home Remedies, Prevention

At some point of life, every person would have experienced stings and bites from insects. It is quite common to get bites from mosquito, spider and other small insects. It goes mostly unnoticed unless you experience swelling or pain in the affected area. You will get to know, how far insect bites are a matter of concern and how it can be treated with simple remedies at your home. Often, insects do not bite us unless it is provoked. They indulge in biting as a matter of defensive mechanism.

They sting when their hives are injured or disturbed accidentally. Most of the insects inject poisonous chemicals in our blood when they bite which may cause allergic reaction in the system. Insect bites can cause redness, swelling and mild to severe pain at the site. Some of the common insects that bite humans are wasps, bees, mosquitoes, ants, caterpillars and hornets. Stings from certain wasps can cause severe allergic reaction.

Each type of insect is different in biting or stinging. Honey bee actually injects the stinger (a small part) and it may die in the process. A wasp can inject venom many times while stinging. Fire ants rotate their bodies and can pass on the venom by biting with their jaw. Mosquitoes indulge in biting for the purpose of sucking blood. Very often insect bites are harmless unless they inject micro-organisms like bacteria or virus into the bloodstream. Mosquitoes are the leading cause for malaria, encephalitis, dengue, cholera and elephantiasis and much more. Ticks and flies can also transmit parasites causing fever and other diseases.

Insect Bites Symptoms :

Some of the common signs of insect bites are pain, redness, swelling, itching and formation of blister on the site of bite or sting. In rare cases it can trigger severe allergic reaction leading to anaphylaxis. This is a serious condition causing symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, hives, lack of mental coordination and unconsciousness. In such cases the person should get immediate medical care to prevent death. Large hornets can cause muscle weakness and breakdown. Spider bites can affect the nervous system and skin ulcers.

Insect Bites Home Remedies :

1. Cold Packs

As soon as you realize that you have been bitten by insect, apply ice cubes on the affected site. Application of ice can prevent spread of venom and reduce swelling to large extent. Wrap some ice cubes in a towel or apply it directly on the spot. Cold packs can numb the area instantly, so that you will not feel any pain. In case you didn’t have ice cubes readily in your freezer you can always use some frozen vegetables on the affected area. Applying cold packs immediately on the skin can significantly reduce inflammation and pain caused by insect bite.

2. Remove The Insect

Before starting with any remedies, scrape away the insect immediately. You can use any sharp tool or knife blade to remove the stinger. Some insects can remain on your skin pumping poison into the skin causing more pain and damage. You can use fingernails also to remove the bee or wasp like insect.

Insect Bites

3. Vinegar

Wet a soft cloth with few drops of vinegar solution and apply it directly on the affected site. If possible you can wrap it around the skin using a tape. Vinegar is known to reduce inflammation and swelling.

4. Meat Tenderizing Powder

You can use tenderizing powder on the site of insect bite immediately. Meat tenderizing powder is made with special chemicals and enzymes to breakdown the meat softly. Add few drops of water to 2 tsp of this powder to make a paste. You can apply this paste on the affected site and leave it for a while before washing. This would serve as an antidote for the injected poison.

5. Powdered Aspirin

Powder the aspirin pills 2-3 and add few drops of water to make a paste. Spread this powdered aspirin directly on the venom injected site of your skin. Aspirin is considered to be safe for reducing pain and inflammation. Before taking it orally you can apply aspirin powder on the site of injury.

6. Fresh Papaya

Papaya is not only delicious but it is used for treating insect venom also. You can apply a freshly cut papaya slice on the site of sting for few minutes. You can also wrap it on your skin and cover it with bandage so that the enzymes from papaya can freely flow into your skin.

7. Baking Soda

Baking soda paste is very effective for treating insect bites. Add few drops of water to baking soda powder and apply it on the site of insect sting. It gives relief from itching and also reduces swelling. Alternatively, you can also mix baking soda with skin lotion and apply this paste in a cotton pad and cover with a bandage. Let it remain there for half-an-hour.

Insect Bites

8. Onion

Onion is known to serve as antidote for poison including insect bite. Take a slice of onion and scrub it over affected site. The enzymes of onion get inside your skin to give relief from inflammation and pain.

9. Oil

  • Apply 2-3 drops of tea tree oil on the site of injury of sting.
  • You can apply lavender oil several times a day on the area of insect bite. Itching would reduce considerably by adding lavender oil.
  • Peppermint oil can produce a cooling effect on the skin. Apply this oil on the skin of insect bite to get fast relief.

10. Anti-Itch Gel

Any spray or powder or anti-itch cream can be applied on the affected skin area. It would be great if the spray contains menthol in it. It produces a cooling effect and gives relief from itching and pain. Topical anesthetic can also be applied directly on the insect bite area. It can help in reducing swelling and prevent an allergic reaction.

Tips For Prevention :

  • Insects and bees are active in winter months. If you are living in bushy area it is wise to use insect repellant regularly. Follow the instructions given on the label before applying any kind of bug spray like DEET.
  • If you are planning to get into woods, it is better to spray your clothing with effective insect repellants like permethrin. But be careful and do not apply it on your skin.
  • Citronella is herb that is very effective against insects and bugs. You can spray this oil on your clothing before heading into woods.
  • Bugs and many kinds of insects hate the smell of garlic. You can crush few pieces of garlic and apply it on your clothing and even on your skin.
  • Do not wear bright colored clothes and avoid using perfumes if you are planning to hike or camp in the woods.
  • Make it a point to remove the complete clothing after visiting forest and soak it in hot water for few hours. After wash dry it in sunlight.

Medical Treatment :

  • Antihistamines like Benadryl can be taken to control itching caused by insect bite.
  • You can safely take pain-killers followed by insect bite.
  • If the allergic reactions are serious, you need to visit your doctor to get antidote injection. If necessary you can take a shot of epinephrine to prevent any consequences.

Outlook :

Most people would show improvement in symptoms when treated with home remedies for insect bites and stings. However, there are some cases where the allergic reactions are intense and they are to be hospitalized and given emergency treatment. Few fatal cases have been reported in case of delayed medical treatment.

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