Swollen, red, itchy, painful: an insect bite is never pleasant. However, there are some tricks and products to help relieve the discomfort. Learn how to deal with these pesky bug bites effectively!
What happens when a bug bites?
When an insect stings or bites a person’s skin, it injects venom or other substances that may cause unpleasant symptoms. Usually, the only symptoms felt are pain, redness, swelling and itchiness at the site of the puncture. Sometimes the reaction can be impressive, but don’t worry. Symptoms normally disappear within a few days.
However, some people may develop a serious allergic reaction to the venom of certain insects. This happens most often with bees and wasps. In such a case, the reaction is more severe and the following symptoms may occur:
- generalized skin rash (redness, swelling, little bumps, etc.)
- difficulty breathing
- swelling of the tongue, lips or face
- drop in blood pressure
- abdominal pain
- rapid heartbeat
If you suspect a serious allergic reaction to an insect bite, seek immediate medical attention.
Tips and tricks
When the reaction to an insect bite remains minor, here are a few tips to help relieve the symptoms.
- Don’t scratch the bite or sting area. It can increase irritation and the risk of infection.
- For a bee sting, remove the stinger by gently scratching the skin with your fingernail or a straight-edged object, such as a credit card. Don’t use tweezers so as to avoid squeezing more venom into the skin. Then, apply ice for 10 minutes (cold delays absorption of the venom, in addition to reducing swelling and pain).
- Clean the area with soap and water.
- Apply cold, damp compresses every two hours for 20 to 30 minutes to relieve the pain and itching.
If the redness, swelling or pain gets worse over the next few days, it may be a sign of infection. If this happens, consult a health professional.
If you cannot relieve the discomfort with these tips, certain over-the-counter medications may prove helpful. For example, oral analgesics or antihistamines may provide relief, as well as certain medicated skin products, in the form of creams or sprays. In some cases, you may want to use an antibiotic cream or ointment to prevent or treat infection. Your pharmacist is well acquainted with the range of products available for relieving the symptoms of insect bites; don’t hesitate to ask for his or her advice.
Insects often sting or bite because they are trying to defend themselves. Be ready to defend yourself too if they choose your skin for their feast! In summer, it’s great to take advantage of every opportunity to get outside, so don’t let the bugs stop you from enjoying the most beautiful days of the year!
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