Don't let insect bites spoil your summer

Many of us enjoy the outdoors but spending time in a garden, park or countryside can mean insect bites or stings.

In most instances being stung or bitten is a minor nuisance. The affected area may get a little red or swollen and it may be slightly painful or itchy but it usually clears up within several hours. But to a child it may feel like the worst pain they’ve ever experienced resulting in lots of tears and anxious parents.

So, what’s the best thing to do? And how will you know if the reaction is more serious?

Lisa Allen, Chief Nurse at Basildon and Brentwood CCG, advises: “Most insect bites and stings are fairly minor and can be treated at home. The best thing to do is wash the area with soap and water and place a clean flannel or cloth soaked in cold water over the affected area to reduce swelling. Try to get your child to avoid scratching the area as this could cause infection. One way to help is to keep your child’s fingernails short and clean.

“If the bite or sting is painful or swollen, you can wrap an ice pack, such as a bag of frozen peas, in a towel and place it on the swelling. To help ease symptoms painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can be taken. Make sure you don’t give your child aspirin if they are aged under-16.

“Use a spray or cream that contains local anaesthetic, antihistamine or mild hydrocortisone (1%) on the affected area to prevent itching and swelling. An antihistamine tablet can help to reduce swelling but make sure you follow advice from your local pharmacist.”

In rare cases, some stings can be painful and trigger a serious allergic reaction. If the redness or itching gets worse, it doesn’t clear up in a few days or you are concerned, visit your GP or call NHS 111 for advice.

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All you need to do is dial 111 and you will speak to a trained advisor who will direct you to the best medical care for you.

Find more information on treating bites and stings here