Pharmacist tips for treating the most common insect bites and stings

Claire Nevinson, the Superintendent Pharmacist at Boots, said: “Insect bites and stings can be uncomfortable and irritating.

“But, fortunately, they are usually nothing to worry about and can be easily treated.”

If you have been stung by a wasp, there would have been a sharp feeling of pain, followed by a swollen red mark.

The area might be sore and itchy, and a wasp sting can lead to a minor allergic reaction.

An allergic reaction will show up as painful, red and swollen skin that could last for up to a week.

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“A bee sting feels similar, but the sting can be left in the wound,” said Nevinson.

“If this occurs, this should be removed as soon as possible using tweezers, before washing the area with soap and water.”

Nevinson added: “If there’s swelling, apply a cold compress such as an ice pack, or flannel soaked in cold water, for at least 10 minutes and where possible, elevate the affected area to help reduce any swelling.”

As for mosquito bites, which can be annoying and itchy, you can reduce your risk of getting them in the first place by covering up exposed skin.

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“It is advisable to try to cover exposed skin if spending time outdoors, especially at the time of day when mosquitoes are most likely to be more active, including sunrise or sunset,” said Nevinson.

“There are several insect repellent products available which, when used according to their instructions, can help reduce the risk of being bitten.”

Then there are ticks which, on rare occasions, could lead to Lyme disease.

Lyme disease appears as a “pink or red circular rash” around the bite mark.

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“If you’ve been bitten by a tick, you should try to remove the tick as soon as possible,” advised Nevinson.

You can do this by “using fine-toothed tweezers to gently grip the tick as close to the skin as possible, before pulling steadily away from the skin”.

Nevinson added: “You should then wash your skin with water and soap afterwards and apply an antiseptic cream to the skin around the bite.”

Bites from a horsefly are also a risk in summer, which can lead to a raised rash, dizziness, weakness, and wheezing.

“Horsefly bites can take some time to heal and can become infected,” said Nevinson.

“If you think the bite has become infected, which may show as increased pain, redness, swelling and there may be pus coming from the bite wound, you should see your GP straight away.”

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