Heatwave is causing a spike in insect bites – here’s how to treat them

Insect bites treatment is very simple and can be usually done at home without professional help - here's everything you need to know.

The recent heatwave has been bringing sunshine and high temperatures to the UK, but it’s also brought pesky insects that have probably been bothering you and your family at night.

Just in the first week of July, the NHS has seen a surge of 50 per cent in the number of people seeking medical help to treat insect bites – a total of 7000 calls, Public Health England confirmed to HuffPost UK.

But what should you do when you get bitten? Here’s everything you need to know about insect bites treatment…

Insect bites treatment: What to do after being bitten?

1. Wash the affected area

First step is to wash the affected area with soap and water, to make sure it doesn’t get infected.

2. Apply a cold compress

When the affected area is completely clean, you should cool it by applying a cold compress (a flannel or cloth cooled with cold water will do) or an ice pack for at least 10 minutes, as this will help with the swelling.

Make sure you keep the area raised or elevated, as it can also help reduce swelling.

3. Avoid scratching

Taking these steps will help but it’s likely the pain, swelling and itchiness will continue for a few days, which is why it’s important to avoid scratching or bursting any blisters, as this will reduce the risk of infection.

If your treating your children’s bites, keep their fingernails short and clean.

Insect bites treatment: How to relieve the symptoms?

As well as applying a cold compress or ice pack to the affected area for swelling, you can also take over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort as a result of the bite.

For itching, there are some over-the-counter treatments – including crotamiton cream or lotion, hydrocortisone cream or ointment and antihistamine tablets, according to the NHS – that your pharmacist can recommend.

Insect bites treatment: When should you get medical advice?

Bites usually don’t require medical attention but you should see you GP if:
– your symptoms don’t start to improve within a few days or are getting worse
– your bite is in your mouth or throat, or near your eyes;
– more than 10 cm around the bite becomes red and swollen;
– your bite has pus or increasing pain, swelling or redness – this could mean it’s infected and you may need antibiotics;
– start to develop other symptoms such as a fever, swollen glands and other flu-like symptoms.