Nature's Pests

By Chelle Cordero

January 4, 2012 4 min read

Though most mosquito bites and insect stings are mild, some people can have more than the usual irritation. The reaction to a sting or bite is caused by the injection of venom or other substances into the skin. If the victim of the bite is allergic, the reaction will be more severe. Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants tend to cause very severe reactions. The first bite or sting often doesn't cause any reaction, but subsequent bites may get worse.

Reaction to stings can range from a mild redness, swelling and stinging sensation to nausea, facial swelling, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, and lowered blood pressure and circulation. Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, can be a true life-threatening condition, and medical attention needs to be received immediately. If someone is having an anaphylactic reaction, check to see if they carry special medications, such as an EpiPen, and help them use it if they do.

For mild reactions with only a little discomfort, remove the stinger, and wash the area with soap and water. Regular soap, antibiotic soap and old-fashioned brown soap work well. Apply a cold pack to reduce pain and swelling. Hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion or a baking soda paste can be applied to the bite or sting until symptoms are relieved.

Taking an antihistamine containing diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine maleate will help reduce suffering. Applying meat tenderizer and vinegar has also been a favorite homegrown method for alleviating discomfort. The meat tenderizer helps to break down the enzymes in the toxin that causes the reaction.

Some products are available on the market to easily treat mild to moderate reactions to stings and bites. Therapik is one such product. According to its press release, "Therapik, a small, portable hand-held device confirmed by the FDA to deliver bug bite relief, is proving to be a welcome weapon against pain and itching from insect bites and stings. Therapik has been shown to be an effective treatment for stings and bites from mosquitoes, bees, wasps, hornets, black flies, ants, fleas, ticks, chiggers and even jellyfish and stinging nettle." Its design "is based on a simple, scientifically proven principle. Most insect venom is thermolabile, or sensitive to heat. Therapik's patented technology delivers heat in the precise temperature range necessary to deactivate the venom from over 20,000 different species of insects and sea creatures. As the heat neutralizes the venom and increases blood flow to the affected area, there is a marked reduction in swelling, redness, pain and itching. Therapik can be reapplied as often as necessary until sufficient bug bite relief is obtained." More information about Therapik can be found at

Mosquitoes are attracted to the human scent -- and the stronger the smell, the stronger the attraction. Perspiration and heavy breathing, such as after exercise and exertion, increases the scent that the mosquitoes pick up. Mosquito repellants will often mask the human scent and make it less attractive to the parasite that lives to sample from your skin. Scratching the site of a bite can help introduce the toxins into open wounds and the bloodstream, and make the reaction seem more severe. Aloe vera gel will help to cool the bite area and reduce the swelling and redness.

The best way to alleviate the suffering of being bitten is to prevent the mosquito bite in the first place. Use a mosquito repellent, and be sure to read the directions and follow them carefully. Prevent mosquitoes from breeding by eliminating standing water. Wear long sleeves and pants tucked into your socks when working outside in heavily foliaged areas. In your home, make sure that your window screens fit well and are intact. And remember that depending on your environment, mosquitoes, insects, fire ants, bees and wasps can be year-round hazards.

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