10 Tips for Treating Insect Bites

When treating insect bites, you want to stay calm and rational, even if you are dealing with a hysterical child or a person responding with a serious allergic reaction.

Identify the Insect, If Possible
If you see what insect has stung or bitten you, make note of it. If you aren't sure what kind of creature it is, try to capture the insect and keep it in case your doctor wants to identify it later. Sometimes it helps to explain health complications if the doctor knows exactly what bit or stung you. For example, most scorpion stings are not extremely toxic, but the bark scorpion is; in this case it is best to show your doctor exactly what kind of scorpion stung you. The same premise applies for spiders and ticks.

Remove the Stinger, If There Is One
Use a credit card, key or anything flat and hard to scrape the stinger off. You can also grasp the stinger with a pair of tweezers and pull it out if necessary.

Wash the Bite or Sting Site
Use soapy water to wash the site as soon as possible.

Apply the Appropriate Remedy
Most bites and stings respond well to a paste of baking soda and water or aspirin and water. Topical ointments that include an analgesic, hydrocortisone or antihistamine are also usually helpful. Apply the paste for 20 minutes, then rinse off, give your skin a break for 20 minutes and use a second time if needed.

Look up remedies for your specific insect bite online, but make sure you check reliable sources!  Some home remedies call for harmful practices, such as painting nail polish on the bite or using solutions that will actually damage your skin. Make sure you choose a method of treating insect bites that provides relief but is reliable and gentle.

Use Cold to Numb the Site
If the pain or itch is intolerable, try icing the site. Always wrap ice in cloth to prevent damaging your skin and only ice a bite for twenty minutes at a time.

Take Oral Antihistamines to Counter Irritation
Take a dose of an antihistamine like Benadryl.

Minimize Chances of Secondary Infections
After you've reduced the pain and itch a bit, wash off the paste or cream used initially and apply a layer of triple antibiotic ointment to prevent a secondary infection. If you can find an ointment with a analgesic in it, use that; it will help reduce pain and itching.

Watch for Serious Complications
Watch for an allergic reaction or any indication that the insect was carrying a disease. If you experience excessive swelling, muscle aches, stiffness, nausea, vomiting, fever or signs of anaphylactic shock, get to an emergency room right away. If you see red streaks coming from the area, see a doctor as soon as possible to check for a secondary infection.

See Your Doctor If Concerned
If a bite or sting is not healing properly or you think you have contracted a disease, see your doctor. Bring along the specimen that bit or stung you, if possible.

Protect Yourself From Future Bites or Stings
Take precautions to avoid insect bites and stings. Use insect repellant, war protective clothing, stay away from areas that are infested, keep your house clean and shake out clothing before wearing it.

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