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INSECT BITES & STINGS

Itchy Bites

are commonly caused by mosquitoes, sand flies and bed bugs and occur because the insect punctures the skin and injects anticoagulant saliva as part of its feeding process. This foreign proteins cause an “itchy bite” – a localised allergic reaction that is usually red, itchy, slightly swollen, but rarely painful.

Treatments:

Creams containing a local anaesthetic and antiseptic are an appropriate first line therapy. They reduce sensation in the area, quickly relieve the itch, and prevent infection where scratching has broken the skin. Itch-Eze Plus® Cream is the strongest insect bite cream on the market – it contains Lignocaine 5% (local anaesthetic) and Tea Tree Oil 2% (anti-itch, antiseptic)

Oral antihistamines are useful and can be combined with topical treatments when bites are severe or extensive.

Stingose® does not numb the skin and works best only if used immediately after a bite.

Calamine is very mild and can dry the skin (which may promote further itching). Hydrocortisone Cream may be used sparingly, but is slower acting than local anaesthetics and must be avoided on broken skin as it may promote infection.

Stings

are commonly caused by bees, wasps and ants when the insect injects a toxic venom, often in self-defence ! Stings are usually PAINFUL, with associated redness and swelling, and can cause life threatening allergic reactions in some people.

Treatment:

First the stinger should be removed using a flat edge such as credit card to prevent further venom being injected. Ice should be applied ASAP to slow the allergic reaction. Itch-Eze Plus may be used for fast local relief. Oral anti-histamines for the allergic reaction, whilst Ibuprofen may be appropriate for the pain and swelling,
Any patient displaying signs of a systemic allergic reaction such as hives, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing etc should be referred to a pharmacist or doctor ASAP