HomeHealthBest insect bite care: doctors share treatment tips for minor and severe...

Best insect bite care: doctors share treatment tips for minor and severe bites

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Spending time outdoors can sometimes mean dealing with insects and their tendency to bite, including mosquitoes, horseflies, ticks, ants or spiders.

Of course, repellents exist. But they are not foolproof and not everyone always has them on hand.

Most bites are harmless.

However, there are times when special care is needed if the body reacts badly to the insect bite.

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Here’s what experts say to know and do when dealing with minor or severe insect bites.

Most insect bites can be treated at home

dr. Brian Mangum, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiologist at the University of Health Sciences Antigua, told Fox News Digital that most insect bites can be treated at home without the need of medical professionals’ attention.

Mosquitoes often bite people and animals to draw blood.

Mosquitoes often bite people and animals to draw blood.
(iStock)

“In general, minor insect bites can result in itching, swelling and a stinging sensation that will subside and disappear within a few days,” Mangum said.

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These symptoms also occur, he said, after an insect sting — as well as from stings from certain insect species (ie hornets, fire ants and bees) can trigger allergic reactions, especially in those prone to anaphylaxis.

This is how you treat small insect bites

It’s important to wash an insect bite site with soap and water, Mangum said.

In the case of stings, the bug’s sting should be removed from the site before washing, he said.

After the insect bite has been disinfected, Mangum recommends applying ice, a cold wet cloth, or a bottle of cold water to the inflamed patch of skin for about 20 minutes to reduce swelling and pain.

Insects can bite almost any surface of the skin.

Insects can bite almost any surface of the skin.
(Getty Images)

“You can also apply calamine lotion, which is a paste made of baking soda and water, or 1% hydrocortisone cream, which is available over the counter at your drugstore,” Mangum said.

“These will also help reduce swelling.”

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If itching and irritation around the bite site persist, Mangum said it’s generally good to take antihistamines in the form of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and nonprescription pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

“Remember to follow the manufacturer’s directions,” he warned.

When taking medication, it is always wise to consult a doctor first.

When to contact severe insect bites?

There are rare instances where medical attention may be needed for an insect bite, say medical professionals.

Usually this is for an anaphylactic reaction – a serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, and dizziness.

like you "have trouble breathing, if there is swelling of the face, including the lips, eyelids and throat, or if you feel dizzy or faint," you shouldn't hesitate to call 911, one doctor said.

If you have “difficulty breathing, if there is swelling of the face, including the lips, eyelids, and throat, or if you feel dizzy or faint,” don’t hesitate to call 911, a doctor said.
(iStock)

“You should not hesitate to call 911 if you have trouble breathing, if there is swelling of the face, including the lips, eyelids and throat, or if you feel dizzy or pass out,” Mangum told Fox News Digital.

“Hives, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also warning signs of a serious reaction,” he said.

If anaphylaxis is suspected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends assessing the respiratory system, breathing, and circulation.

CDC: how to recognize the signs of anaphylaxis?

    Respiratory: sensation of closing the throat, high breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing and cough

    Gastrointestinal: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain

    Cardiovascular: Dizziness, fainting, abnormally fast heart rate (tachycardia), and abnormally low blood pressure (hypotension)

    Skin and mucous membranes: Hives, itching, swollen lips, face and/or throat

    Neurological: Agitation, convulsions, acute change in mental status and an impending sense of doom

The agency also says that people experiencing anaphylactic symptoms should be placed in the supine position — meaning lying horizontally with their head and torso facing up.

People should try to avoid scratching insect bites;  scratching can cause further irritation or infection, doctors say.

People should try to avoid scratching insect bites; scratching can cause further irritation or infection, doctors say.
(iStock)

“Those with a history of allergic reactions to insect bites, also known as anaphylaxis, should talk to their doctor about wearing an epinephrine injector, which can be given quickly during an emergency and can save lives,” Mangum said.

Avoid home remedies; watch out for infection

While most insect bites and stings can be treated at home with over-the-counter creams and medications, do-it-yourself home remedies should be avoided, according to Iza Correll, physician assistant, founder and CEO of OVI Healthcare, a free hospital care non-profit. profit. She is based in Kenya.

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“Do not use home remedies or remedies that a doctor has not recommended,” Correll told Fox News Digital.

“This topic seems very familiar to me, as our children’s hospital is located in Suna Migori, the Kenyan town whose name translates directly to, ‘This is where you’ll beat yourself to mosquitoes,’” said Correll. “It certainly lives up to that name.”

It’s important not to “excessively scratch” an insect bite, as that can lead to an infection, she added.

A person should contact a health care provider if symptoms worsen or if there are any questions or concerns.

“If the bite doesn’t heal properly or becomes infected, it’s critical to get medical attention,” Correll warned. “Signs that the infection may be getting worse are fever, swelling, redness, or discharge from the wound.”

With regard to the symptoms of mosquito bites, the CDC notes that more severe reactions can occur in these groups: children; adults bitten by a species of mosquito to which they have not been previously exposed; and people with immune system disorders.

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It also states that people who experience more severe reactions may have the following symptoms: a large area of ​​swelling and redness; low-grade fever; hives; and swollen lymph nodes.

A person should contact a health care provider if symptoms worsen or if there are any questions or concerns.

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