How do I Relieve Insect Bites?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
Mosquito about to bite.
Mosquito about to bite.

Insect bites can be relieved in many different ways. Not everyone finds each method satisfactory for relieving the itching or pain caused from an insect bite or sting, but it's likely for one or two methods to help reduce the itch or pain at least somewhat for most people. Trying to prevent insect bites and stings in the first place is the best thing to do. However, it is good to be prepared with a kit of supplies in case of a bite or sting from an insect such as a spider, wasp, ant or mosquito.

Yellow jackets are attracted to sweet smells, so avoiding wearing perfume while outside can help prevent stings.
Yellow jackets are attracted to sweet smells, so avoiding wearing perfume while outside can help prevent stings.

Mosquito repellent is usually easy to find in stores in seasons when mosquitoes are active, and it can be sprayed on the skin or applied as a lotion depending on the brand. Wasps, hornets, bumblebees and yellow jackets are attracted to sweet foods and drinks as well as perfumes and scented soaps, so reducing the use of these as much as possible can help keep flying, stinging insects away. Ant hills could contain fire ants and muddy areas could be home to wasp nests, so these should be avoided. Wood piles should also be avoided as much as possible or approached with caution to prevent insect bites, as they are often favorite places for spiders.

Anti-itch ointments may relieve the itching and swelling of insect bites.
Anti-itch ointments may relieve the itching and swelling of insect bites.

Spider bites should be washed with soap and water before an ice pack or wet cloth is placed on the area. Many spider bites are seen as three marks in a V or triangular shape. A purchased after-bite solution or an anti-itch ointment can be placed on the bite to help relieve the itching and swelling. If the swelling gets worse or the insect bite is very painful or red, this may indicate it was from a venomous spider or the bitten person is having an allergic reaction. Emergency medical help should be sought immediately.

An ice pack can reduce swelling from an insect bite.
An ice pack can reduce swelling from an insect bite.

A tight feeling in the throat and difficulty breathing after a sting from a stinging insect indicates a dangerous allergic reaction that could be anaphylaxis. If a lot of swelling occurs after insect bites or stings, it may be as a result of an allergic reaction called angiodema. Immediate emergency medical attention, such as calling 911 or an ambulance, is necessary in both cases. When people know they are allergic to insect stings, they should carry a medication called epinephrine to use if stung.

Spider bites should be washed with soap and water.
Spider bites should be washed with soap and water.

A credit card, the back of a knife blade or other blunt, flat object should be used to scrape the stinger out of the skin. The stinger should never be pulled out, as doing this causes more venom to pump into the stung area. The area should be cleansed with soap and water before adding an ice pack or cold cloth. Meat tenderizer or a paste made from baking soda and water or salt and water may help relieve pain or itching.

Minor insect stings and bites can be relieved by applying vinegar with a cotton ball.
Minor insect stings and bites can be relieved by applying vinegar with a cotton ball.

In the case of insect bites caused by mosquitoes, stick-on bandages that seal all the way around, such as circular shaped ones, may help reduce the itchiness since they block the movement of air on the bite. Also, sealed stick-on bandages placed on the bites help prevent scratching that may cause damage to the skin. Some people find applying lemon juice or petroleum jelly before the stick-on bandage helps mosquito bites feel less itchy.

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Discussion Comments

anon287147

Toothpaste is really good for mosquito bites! Hope I helped.

anon93026

peppermint/eucalyptus/oregano oils are very effective against bites and itch!

anon61996

Hot water (as hot as you can bear) on the mosquito bite will relieve the itching.

anon40777

Clear nail polish on the area of the bite keeps the air off it, and will reduce the itching to almost nothing in many people.

anon38541

The constant barrage of Poland Springs' pop-ups on this site makes it a very unpleasant experience to visit here...

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    • Mosquito about to bite.
      Mosquito about to bite.
    • Yellow jackets are attracted to sweet smells, so avoiding wearing perfume while outside can help prevent stings.
      Yellow jackets are attracted to sweet smells, so avoiding wearing perfume while outside can help prevent stings.
    • Anti-itch ointments may relieve the itching and swelling of insect bites.
      Anti-itch ointments may relieve the itching and swelling of insect bites.
    • An ice pack can reduce swelling from an insect bite.
      An ice pack can reduce swelling from an insect bite.
    • Spider bites should be washed with soap and water.
      Spider bites should be washed with soap and water.
    • Minor insect stings and bites can be relieved by applying vinegar with a cotton ball.
      Minor insect stings and bites can be relieved by applying vinegar with a cotton ball.
    • Some insect bites can be treated by using a hydrocortisone spray.
      Some insect bites can be treated by using a hydrocortisone spray.
    • Emergency care is necessary if someone allergic to bees is stung by the insect.
      Emergency care is necessary if someone allergic to bees is stung by the insect.
    • Stick-on bandages may help reduce itchiness caused by mosquito bites.
      Stick-on bandages may help reduce itchiness caused by mosquito bites.