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First Aid for Insect Bites

Here at Good Riddance we’re all about avoiding insect bites – that’s why we recommend using insect repellent on kids over 3 months.  But we’re also only human, so we know just how frustrating it is when you forget to pop on insect repellent and you get bitten.

In Australia, the most common insect bites aren’t poisonous – phew!  You’re most likely to get a bite or sting from flies, mosquitoes, fleas, spiders, wasps or bees and while they’re certainly not fun, they’re not dangerous. 

Signs and Symptoms of an Insect Bite

The signs and symptoms of an insect bite can vary between insects and between people.  Some people are more sensitive to the bite of a particular insect than they are to others and this will impact how the bite shows up.

A minor reaction will generally be limited to the skin at the site of the bite or sting and you’ll see a painful, itchy lesion.

In more significant reactions, you’ll see a larger area of swelling and redness, and possibly some blistering as well.

According to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, “as a rule, the size of a reaction from repeated insect bites (such as mosquitos) is larger in early childhood then slowly reduces as the child gets older”. This means that kids are more likely to have more severe reactions than adults – so it’s extra important to apply that kid’s insect repellents.

Bug Bites and Anaphylaxis

If the person bitten is allergic to that particular insect, it can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

In this situation, you might see:

  • Rash or hives over a large part of the body
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing, wheezing
  • Swelling of the lips or tongue
  • Fainting
  • Young children going pale and floppy

If you think you or anyone else is having an anaphylactic reaction – call an ambulance – it’s an emergency.

General Care of Insect Bites

The majority of insect bites can be taken care of at home and will mostly involve reducing itching or pain.

To help minimise discomfort:

  • Wash the area around the bite
  • Apply a plain, unscented moisturiser such as sorbolene to help with the itch. Keep it in the fridge and it will feel even better going on.
  • Use cold fashwashers to reduce swelling
  • Hold the bitten limb above the heart – this reduces swelling and therefore pain
  • Consider an antihistamine if you’re particularly itchy or uncomfortable. These are often available over the counter – talk to your pharmacist for advice, particularly if giving to children.

The Good Riddance range also includes our Rescue Balm which soothes the bites and helps your skin recover.  It’s a great choice for when you’re itchy – or having a number of other skin issues.

Despite all of this, the best treatment is prevention.  Keep yourself and your kids protected with insect repellent and avoid the horrible itches!