Insects such as ticks, wasps and mosquitoes have plagued human beings for centuries. As a result, some highly effective home remedies have evolved to relieve the pain and swelling and to soothe that maddening itch.
Stings from bees, wasps and fire ants can be painful but are usually harmless. Some people have a more serious allergic reaction and emergency treatment is vital. While most spiders are harmless to humans, some species (black widow and brown recluse spiders in the U.S.) are highly venomous and require antivenom. In regions where mosquitoes are known to transmit diseases such as West Nile virus, take precautions to prevent bites. But usually mosquito bites are just a nuisance and together with other minor stings can be treated with home remedies.
• If you are stung by a bee or wasp, remove the stinger, scraping it out with a fingernail or hard object. Do not remove it with tweezers, as this can squeeze more venom into the skin.
• To relieve the pain of bee, wasp and ant stings, soak a cloth in very cold water and wring it out, or use an ice pack covered with a damp cloth.
• Cleanse the area. Stinging insects may have undesirable bacteria in their venom. Wash the sting well with soap and water or use an antiseptic wipe.
• To prevent swelling, place fresh slices of onion (a natural anti inflammatory) or lemon on the sting.
• Stir together 2 drops of peppermint essential oil and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) honey and spread generously on the site of the sting to prevent inflammation.
• Always remove ticks promptly, as in some areas prolonged bites can cause Lyme disease. After removing a tick (see above right), disinfect the site with a few drops of tea tree oil, iodine or alcohol.
WHEN TO CONSULT A DOCTOR A sting on the mouth or throat carries a risk of suffocation and, (or people with allergies, a sting anywhere can be life threatening. In either case, go straight to hospital.