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Insect Bites and Stings: Tips and Remedies

Ticks, Bees, Mosquitoes

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Here are some first aid tips for those annoying—and sometimes painful—insect bites and stings from ticks to bee stings to mosquitoes.

Tick Bites

  • Depending on the species, ticks may carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, or a number of other diseases. In fact, ticks are the leading carriers of diseases to humans in the U.S., and second only to mosquitoes worldwide. Similarly to mosquitoes, toxins in the tick's saliva cause the disease.
  • Hard ticks have a tough back plate and tend to feed for hours to days. With hard ticks, disease transmission usually occurs near the end of a meal.
  • Soft ticks have a more rounded body and lack the back plate. They usually feed for less than an hour and disease transmission can occur in less than a minute.
  • Lyme disease is caused by hard ticks including deer ticks. Sitting on a log in the woods, leaning up against a tree or gathering wood are risky activities when trying to avoid ticks.
  • Tick bites are generally painless and may go completely unnoticed. You may notice a red, circular bump and some itching and burning once the tick is removed.
  • To remove a tick, use tweezers to firmly grasp the tick close to its head and as close to your skin as possible. Avoid squeezing the tick's abdomen; crushing a tick may transmit diseases.
  • Pull gently upward until the tick comes free. Do not twist and turn the tick, as the head or mouth parts may break off and stay in the skin, increasing the chances for infection.
  • Do not use petroleum jelly or a match to remove the tick.
  • If you are bitten, it is recommended that you save the tick for identification and send it to a lab to test if the tick is carrying disease. In this case, place the tick in a tightly closed container, such as a vial or a zippered plastic bag (doubled, if the tick is alive). Do not soak the tick in alcohol. If the tick is alive (which is preferable for testing), some labs ask that you place a cotton ball moistened with a few drops of water in the container. Label the container with the date, your name and contact information, the bite’s location on the body, and your general health at the time. If known, also list the geographical location from which the tick may have originated. Send live ticks as soon as possible to a lab; some labs accept dead or damaged ticks as well. If the tick is dead and you don’t want to have it tested, you can store the container in the freezer for later tick ID in case symptoms develop.
  • When disposing of a tick that has not attached yet, drop it into a sealed plastic bag and throw it into the trash. Or, you can drop it into a jar of rubbing alcohol; with this method, you can save it for later identification, although it is better not to do this if you want to have it tested for disease. You can also wrap the tick up in tape and throw it into the garbage; if you plan to have the tick tested, however, some labs ask that you do not use this method, as it is hard to extract the tick for testing. No matter what method you choose, do not touch the tick with your bare fingers.
  • Do not flush a live tick down the toilet. Ticks do not drown in water and have been known to crawl back up out of the toilet bowl.
  • Clean the bite area with soap and water or a mild disinfectant. Disinfect the tweezers with rubbing alcohol, and wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Observe the bite area for several days. Illnesses transmitted by the tick often begin only days or weeks after the tick is gone. If symptoms occur, tell the physician if you have been outdoors. Symptoms may include fever, numbness, rash, confusion, weakness, pain and swelling in the joints, shortness of breath, nausea, and/or vomiting. Blood tests are needed to diagnose any illness.
  • To avoid ticks, stay away from outdoor areas where ticks thrive during the months of April through September.
  • Tuck pants into boots or socks. Wear light colored clothes so ticks can be easily spotted and brushed off. Apply insect repellent. Promptly check yourself, others, and pets if exposed to tick areas.

The Tick Key

NEW! We found this neat device called the Tick Key.

Tick Keys may be the easiest-to-use tick remover on Earth! The key removes ticks safely and completely (head and all)—and you do not need to touch the tick!

Made of strong metal, you can carry the key with you

Find out more about the safe tick removal with the Tick Key.

 

Bee Stings

  • If you have a history of severe reactions to insect stings, call emergency medical services.
  • If the stinger is still present, remove it immediately. Gently scrape the skin with a credit card, your thumbnail, or a blunt knife.
  • Don't pinch the stringer with your fingers or tweezers because this could squeeze more venom into the skin.
  • Apply ice or cold packs to constrict the capillaries and reduce swelling.
  • Clean the area with soap and water and apply a hydrocortisone cream or a mixture of baking soda and water.
  • If no other treatment is available, just scoop up a handful of mud and hold it on the sting until the mud dries or apply a slice of onion to the spot and hold it for a minute or so.

Mosquito Bites

  • Male mosquitoes feed only on nectar, whereas female mosquitoes nourish their developing eggs with protein rich blood.
  • Mosquitoes prefer to bite ankles and wrists, where blood vessels are nearer to the skin's surface.
  • Mosquitoes spit an anticoagulant under our skin, leaving us with whatever disease they're carrying (encephalitis, malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever).
  • Lemon Eucalyptus oil can be used to repel mosquitoes.
  • Cool the area of the bite to constrict the capillaries near the skin's surface and reduce swelling. Try a cool compress.
  • Remember not to scratch the bite; this will only make it worse.
  • To eliminate the itch, rub on meat tenderizer or lemon juice.
  • White vinegar is another remedy for relieving the itch of insect bites. Apply it in full strength. Don't use vinegar if the area is raw.

Have some tips of your own?  Please post below!

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Comments

Clear nail polish, cover a

By estella007

Clear nail polish, cover a mosquito bite with clear nail polish, must be clear, colored polish doesn't work. Itch stops immediately! Keep it up until the bite disappears.

The best remedy I have *ever*

By HeatherS

The best remedy I have *ever* used for mosquito, yellow fly & bee/wasp stings is meat tenderizer. Yes, you read correctly, meat tenderizer. The meat tenderizer draws the poison out of the bite/sting, helps reduce swelling & speeds up healing.

Make a paste with the meat tenderizer & water (or witch hazel) and apply it to the bite/sting for about 15-20 minutes, then rinse off with cool water. My mom told me about this remedy the first time I got stung by a wasp. After leaving the paste on the sting for about 20 minutes there was zero swelling, zero pain & the only evidence left of the sting was a tiny red dot where the stinger went in.

When I've been bitten by yellow flies, I've found mixing the meat tenderizer with witch hazel to be particularly effective in reducing the infernal itching, and it also causes the blistering to happen sooner, which in turn speeds up healing. But, most importantly, it is the *only* remedy I have used that helps with the itching. Forget hydrocortisone, yellow fly bites laugh at it, but the meat tenderizer does the trick.

Hope this helps!! :)

It just happened like that I

By Justin Burtt on October 12

It just happened like that I started feeling this sting on my skin and when ever I touch it it really burns any idea what it might be :)

My mother always made a paste

By Dawn Roberson

My mother always made a paste of baking soda and vinegar to put on our bee stings.

put a small amount of water

By B Childs

put a small amount of water in a spoon add an aspirin Let melt Rube the solution on the bite In a couple minutes itch has gone

Who said tick-bites don`t

By lithalara

Who said tick-bites don`t hurt. I guess if you never get bitten by a tick it dosn't hurt

"BurnAway Plus" Is the

By Tad

"BurnAway Plus" Is the best!
It is marketed out of Oklahoma and is great for burns of all kinds, but an added feature is that it stops the itch from mosquito and chigger bites!!! Great product.

Any ideas for horse fly

By Emily Marian

Any ideas for horse fly bites?

I suffer from allergic reactions to them. The area swells right up, become hard and hard, itchy and sore. It is very hot to the touch. One bite can swell most of my leg up.

If I manage to take anti histamine in time, I can prevent swelling but often I'm too late. I even took the tablets immediately after a bite and the swelling went down but came up very quickly later on.

Any ideas for relief?

Mix meat tenderizer with

By HeatherS

Mix meat tenderizer with witch hazel to make a paste. Apply to the bite for about 15-20 minutes, then rinse off with cool water.

The papain in the meat tenderizer draws out the poison, providing relief of the itching (the witch hazel helps with that, too, since it's an astringent). This works for me for yellow fly bites (which I'm *very* allergic to), so I'm assuming it will help with horse fly bites, too. I'll also use the witch hazel to help cool down the bite.

I haven't found anything yet that helps with the hardness or the swelling, but to me, the worst part is the itching.

Hope this helps! :)

My granddaughter is highly

By Jody Shoafy

My granddaughter is highly allergic to most insect bites of any kind in which swell her up tremendously as well. We found Borein Arnica Gel at Walmart for 8.00 to be the answer to all swelling from bites. It immediately takes out the swelling and pain. She also has allergies and begins to go crazy itching in which it stops the itching fast as well. We carry a tube where ever we go for quick relief.. It is all natural, made from Arnica Montana flowers..

As soon as you notice the

By Almanac Staff

As soon as you notice the bite, put saliva on it. (Really!) When you can get to a sink or hose, wash the bite well with soap and water. Pat dry and then apply a hot salt-water compress. Other remedies to reduce the pain are vinegar, aloe, or raw onion.

The best thing I have found

By Sharlee Mosher

The best thing I have found for mosquito bites is to cut a clove of garlic in half and give it a good sqeeze to get it juicy and rib it right on the bite. In 10 minutes or less the itching and swelling are gone completely. I am allergic to mosquitos and I use this and I have no problems.

Today, I went to the beach

By please click the next internet page

Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!|

It counts cause it is a

By Rick Haines

It counts cause it is a BITE!To remedie this I reccomend a quick check of all SHELLS to be sure nothing resides with in said SHELL.LOL

I'm a mosquito magnet too. I

By Sophie Castro

I'm a mosquito magnet too. I don't have to wait til evening for their attack. Recently, a friend saw bites on my legs and she gave me a sachet of peptirub. I couldn't find it in our local drug store but saw this on the net mosquitobiteserum.com

Vinegar ? really? lol, I'm

By Jimmy Molina

Vinegar ? really? lol, I'm surprised, never heard about it, thanks for sharing.

Google " uses of vinegar " It

By Ed Feely

Google " uses of vinegar " It will amaze you!!

Yup! And if you have many

By javigh123

Yup! And if you have many bites you can take a nice hot bath by adding about 2.5 cups of vinegar to the water and just soak in there.

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/natural-home-remedies-for-mosquito-bites/

bee and wasps stings..

By Mr B

bee and wasps stings.. toothpaste asap
no pain, no swelling
if allergic, seek medical aid

I experienced fire ant bites

By C.R.

I experienced fire ant bites stepping on a curb near a Starbucks store. The manager gave me a banana skin and instructed me to rub the inside of the skin on the ant bites which I did. Relief was immediate! I still don't know why, but it was successful.

What about fire ant bites?

By Mima

What about fire ant bites? Does anybody have any really good ideas on how to deal with them?

Mima, in Miami, Fl. at a

By Sue R.

Mima, in Miami, Fl. at a fruil & tree park, they put tiger balm on me when fire ants covered both feet, it was very painful. It was very soothing, & drew the poison out. I bought some & brought it home with me. It works on hornets, wasps mosquitas, we use it on any sting. You can buy it at Wal-Mart.

Hi, Mima, Elevate the bitten

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Mima, Elevate the bitten area and apply ice or a cold compress. To relieve pain, it may help to use anti-itch medications, such as hydrocortisone cream, or a solution of half-bleach and half-water on the sting. Do not break any pustule that has formed to avoid infection. Wash gently.

didnt know that about vinegar

By keno122

didnt know that about vinegar - not surprised! vinegar has many amazing uses! for bee, mosquito, chiggers bites, I simply use Caladryl lotion. Works great!

get the ofa "tick key"!! it

By lee d/custer sd

get the ofa "tick key"!! it is great and works so easily! best invention out there if you are one who is outside alot like my husband and i are!! thanks old farmers almanac!!

if you must scratch mosquito

By TaxLady

if you must scratch mosquito or bee stings do not scratch directly on top of the bite, scratch around the bite, just as soothing but doesn't irritate the bite

a paste of meat tenderizer

By TaxLady

a paste of meat tenderizer works great on bee stings

Meat tenderizer works for me

By Jonnie

Meat tenderizer works for me everytime on stings!!

For stings: The best remedy

By Scooter784l3

For stings: The best remedy for dealing with major stings is nicotine. A scorpion sting's pain can be halted in its tracks by smearing the nicotine from a smoking pipe filter across the area of the sting. There will be some 'throbbing' but the pain should stop almost immediately.

If you get stung by an ASP aka Texas Puss Caterpillar make half a dozen inverted loops of tape one and a half inch to two inches in diameter(sticky side out). Insert two fingers into tape roll, then roll the loop of tape across the area of the sting JUST ONCE! Only roll the loop of tape until you come to the area where you started rolling, stop there and drop it into the garbage can. You are removing the fine stinging hairs that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Continue rolling the succeeding loops of tape, until you're out of loops of tape. Six should do the trick, unless you touched numerous areas of skin against the Asp.

Then smear the nicotine from a smoking pipe filter across the sting and cover with a patch and don't wash the area for 24 hrs. If you don't have a smoking pipe filter, use a small rolled up wad of Beechnut leaf chewing tobacco that has been moistened with tap water, just enough so that the nicotine begins to color your finger tips. Flatten the wetted chewing tobacco on the surface of the sting and keep it in place by 'X' two large bandaids over it to hold it in place. A large square athletic band-aid works as well. I've used a piece of Saran-Wrap over the tobacco and then used an ACE bandage wrapped over the top of the Saran-Wrap to hold it in place for 24 hrs.

Count yourself lucky if you've never been stung by an Asp. The misleading part is that if you've never been stung by one, you don't realize that you've just been stung when you first come into contact with an Asp, because unlike bees, wasps, scorpions and such there is absolutely no bite or puncture that hurts with the 'contact' that will eventually spread the poison into your body.

The spread of the Asp poison and pain lasts approx 18 - 22 hrs. If you take no steps to remove the fine stinging hairs, or applied nicotine to fight the stinging poison, you are in for bone-breaking feeling of pain of un-imaginable agony for nearly a day.

Asp stings can cause DEATHS, due to blood poisoning in some cases. The factor to 'look' for in a victim of an Asp sting is a RED LINE under the skin leading from the area of the sting, up towards the shoulder, in the case of a stung hand or arm. Or a red line going up the leg towards the torso. ***IMMEDIATE*** transport to an Emergency Room at a local hospital is required at this point, if the 'red line' appears on the victim's skin.

I use straight ammonia on

By Newfanewench

I use straight ammonia on itchy bug bites. Works every time; it's what they put in the "afterbite" stuff, if you read the ingredients it is mostly ammonia.

Ammonia absolutely works the

By Elaine Liptak

Ammonia absolutely works the best! But you have to put it on the mosquito bite immediately after the bite happens, for best results!

The sap of Jewlweed is great

By gardengurl

The sap of Jewlweed is great for taking the sting out of insect bites, the itch out of Poison Ivy and the sting out of stinging nettle. I have used it myself on more than one occasion. It is also a great nectar plant for hummingbirds during the fall migration as it blooms late summer into fall.

The Indians called Jewelweed

By deacon

The Indians called Jewelweed Waterweed --- some call it "Wild Touch Me Not" --- great for poison ivy.

Common Plantain.. a Herb

By bigeagle16870

Common Plantain.. a Herb ."weed" in the lawn of about everyone once called "white man's foot" by the Native Americans round shaped leaves in a rosette and a small spike growing from the center.. take leaf of this ween and rub it on the sting after the stinger is removed.. it releaves the pain of the sting in about 30 to 45 seconds... don't know why it works but it does.. the herb books claim it is edible high in vitimins but I find it too stringy.. root relives toothache pain...

I have also found that if I

By KathyEbert

I have also found that if I wash with plain water immediatly after being bit by mosquitos does help, then I apply Triple Antiobiotic Ointment. You may have to apply the Ointment a couple of times but it works for me.

I have found that if I just

By Nedra Innerarity

I have found that if I just simply spit on my finger and rub a mosquito or fire ant bit with my own saliva it stops burning and itching. Your own saliva has the antibiotic to treat the area. The itching is caused by antibiotics rushing to the bit and by applying your own saliva the is no need for the rush. Next time you get bit, spit on it right away and you are in for a pleasant surprise.

I put my own spit on the bite

By Anonymous too

I put my own spit on the bite too....works for me !!!

Mosquito bites can bother me

By Suzanne Fine

Mosquito bites can bother me for days, with no relief from anti-itch preparations. I have found that the best remedy is to treat the bite with a hot compress, as hot as can be tolerated. It works best if it is done as soon after the bite occurs. If treated immediately, most mosquito bites disappear within a matter of minutes, with no residual itching. I am not sure of the mechanics of this remedy, but it seems to do the trick.

this is so true. I learned

By Marg

this is so true. I learned this trick from my father many years ago. I basically have to use scorching hot water just for a few seconds and then it won't itch me for another 24hrs. great remedy :)

I have also used dishsoap on

By Toni L Johnson

I have also used dishsoap on a cottonball
to remove a tick. Just soak the cottonball with soap (even liquid hand soap) and hold on tick until it releases. It only takes a couple of minutes or less. Works great!

Putting ANYTHING on the tick

By jlanham

Putting ANYTHING on the tick is not recommended as it increases the possibility of the tick regurgitating under your skin before it releases..Use a tick key or tweezers and grasp it up next to the skin.

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