woman scratching bug bites on shoulder
May 15, 2024

For many people, the warmer weather of spring and summer means bug bites and stings. You may be spending more time outdoors where bugs like mosquitoes, bees, ticks, horseflies, and other insects are in abundance. Bites and stings from these bugs can be painful or itchy, making them impossible to ignore. To treat the pain and itch of bug bites and stings, try the following tips.

1. Wash the Affected Area

When you or your child gets bit or stung by a bug, the first thing you should do is gently wash the area with soap and water. This will remove any venom from your skin and keep bacteria from getting into the wound. Check to see if any stingers are lodged in the skin, and if so, gently remove them.

2. Apply an Ice Pack

man applying gel ice pack to arm

Bug bites and stings can cause inflammation, which contributes to pain and itchiness. Applying ice can reduce inflammation and provide short-term relief from pain and itching. You can apply a cold pack for 5 to 10 minutes at a time several times a day for relief. Make sure you place a barrier such as a washcloth between your skin and the ice to prevent frostbite.

3. Do Not Scratch

Bug bites can feel very itchy, but it’s important to remember not to scratch them. If you scratch a bug bite, you can cause more inflammation and the release of more histamine, which will actually make it itch more. Additionally, scratching can break the skin, increasing the potential for infections and abscesses.

4. Make an Oatmeal Paste

bowl of oats

Oatmeal contains compounds that have anti-irritant qualities. You can try using oatmeal to relieve the itching and swelling from bug bites and stings. Mix equal amounts of oatmeal and water to form a paste, then apply it to the irritated area for 10 minutes. If you have a lot of bug bites, you can try an oatmeal bath instead. Stir a cup of oatmeal into a bathtub filled with warm water and soak for 20 minutes.

5. Apply Honey

Honey is nature’s remedy for a lot of ailments, including bug bites and stings. This natural substance has many anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it a great remedy for bites and stings. Apply a small drop to an itchy bite or painful sting to reduce inflammation and the temptation to scratch.

6. Use Aloe Vera

glass jar filled with aloe vera gel next to sliced aloe vera plant on cutting board

Aloe vera has been used as a natural remedy for many years to treat various skin ailments. It is commonly used to reduce pain and promote healing of sunburns, and it can also help heal bug bites. Apply aloe vera gel to the affected area and let it dry. Reapply as needed.

7. Try Over-the-Counter Medication

There are many over-the-counter medications that can be used to treat bug bites and stings. Topical anti-itch and antihistamine creams or oral antihistamines can help relieve itching. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can provide relief from painful bites and stings. Make sure you follow the product label directions for proper use.

Keep Your Skin Healthy and Itch-Free

Bug bites and stings can cause uncomfortable itching and pain during the warmer months. To avoid getting bit or stung, try using insect repellent, covering exposed skin, wearing neutral colors, and avoiding perfume and scented lotion. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, there are some other annoying skin problems that can occur, too, from sunburn to plant rashes and others. If you want to keep your skin healthy and itch-free this time of year, check out these prevention tips for common skin rashes so you can enjoy your time in the great outdoors!

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