How to treat flea, tick and insect bites
Many non-venomous insects bite, usually to inject anti-coagulant saliva to feed on your blood. Local irritation and allergic reactions do occur from non-venomous bites, but are rare - stings from venomous insects like bees are more likely to provoke allergic reactions.
There are two types of prevention for insect bites: repellents and avoidance. The most effective repellent available is DEET, which can be found in sprays and lotions.
Avoiding Insect Bites
You may not always be able to prevent insect bites, but you can try with these tips:
- Cover as much of your skin as possible with clothing, hats, socks, etc.
- Pay special attention to cuff areas at ankles, wrists and neck.
- Avoid swamps, dense woods, fields, and brush where insects thrive.
- Examine exposed skin and scalp areas for clinging ticks after returning from hikes.
- Use insect repellent.
Itching is the main symptom of insect bites. Pain, swelling / redness, and allergic reactions are other symptoms to look out for with insect bites, but they are extremely rare.
Soothing the Itch
Herbal remedies are especially effective when looking to relieve the itch of insect bites:
- Aloe Gel - Relieves inflammation.
- Calendula Cream - Natural insect repellent which also soothes skin irritation.
- Citronella Oil - Natural repellent that can be put on light bulbs or used in candles to repel bugs.
- Comfrey Cream - Promotes tissue healing.
- Tea Tree Oil - An antiseptic used to prevent infection.
There are also several medicinal remedies you can use to deal with those pesky irritants:
- Clean the area. Use soap and water to thoroughly cleanse the site of the bite.
- Apply ice to keep any swelling and redness down.
- Apply hydrocortisone cream to relieve redness and pain.
- Take a pain reliever and / or an antihistamine (read instructions on proper dosage and potential interactions).
When to See a Doctor
Any systemic reaction should be seen by a doctor immediately. This includes hives, swelling in the face, shortness of breath or wheezing, difficulty swallowing and lightheadedness or fainting. Local reactions generally don't require professional care, however if your local reaction causes enough swelling or pain to distract you from your normal activities or keep you awake despite basic treatment, you should see a doctor.