19 Home Remedies for Bites and Stings

You hear the buzz, you see the bee, but before you know it -- oweee! You've been stung. Almost all of us have had this experience at least once, and it's no fun. But with the home remedies in this article, you can take the ouch out of being stung and perhaps prevent the attack from happening in the first place.

Bees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and fire ants all have stingers that inject venom into their unfortunate victim. The most common reaction is redness, pain, itching, and perhaps some swelling around the sting area, which lasts for a few hours. Other creatures, such as black flies, horseflies, black or red (not fire) ants, and mosquitoes, also bite and sting, but their venom usually does not cause as intense a reaction.

Home Remedy Treatments for Bites and Stings

Perhaps the easiest way of dealing with the discomfort of a bite or sting is preventing one from happening in the first place. Read on to discover home remedies to protect yourself.

Keep your cool. If a wasp, yellow jacket, or any stinging insect flies near you, stay calm. Slowly move away from the area and do not flail your arms or try to swat the bug. Getting agitated may incite the insect to sting.

Unsweeten your sweat. Ever notice how two people can be sitting outdoors and insects will hover over one but ignore the other? No one is sure why, but some experts think insects find certain varieties of sweat or body odor more appealing than others. According to one theory, so far unsubstantiated, changing the smell of your sweat may repel insects. Some believers suggest that eating onions and garlic can drive bugs away. The downside? You're likely to repel humans, too.

Don't wear bright, flowery clothes or rough fabrics. These seem to attract insects for some reason. Stick to smooth fabric and light-colored outfits in tones of white, tan, green, or khaki when you plan to spend time outdoors.

Go fragrance-free. Perfume, cologne, and scented aftershave, hair spray, and soap will attract insects. You may feel a bit bland without your favorite fragrance, but it may be well worth the dearth of painful stings.

Leave bright, shiny jewelry at home. Bright jewelry and other shiny metal objects attract insects. You may lack some pizzazz, but in this case, making less of a fashion statement is in style.

Keep your shoes on. Walking barefoot through the grass may feel great, but it's not such a wise idea. Bees are attracted to the clover that covers many lawns, and yellow jackets build their homes in the ground, so going shoeless can mean stepping into trouble.

Keep food covered when outside. Picnics are a summer family favorite, but open food attracts stinging insects. Keep covers on food as much as possible and keep the lids on garbage cans as well. You're best off steering clear of public trash cans that are partially or fully open on top.

Watch what you drink from. If you're downing a cold drink outdoors, use caution. Insects can fly into drinking vessels, so guzzling a cola could lead to a sting on the tongue or throat. While outdoors, avoid drinking from cans or other narrow-lipped, open-mouthed containers that might allow bugs to launch a sneak attack when you take your next sip.

Be aware of your surroundings. When gardening or doing yard work or other outdoor chores, be on the lookout for hives. Nests can be found in the eaves and attic of your home and in trees, vines, shrubs, wood piles, and other protected places. Disturbing a nest, even by accident, can irritate the insects. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests using extreme care when operating power lawn mowers, hedge clippers, and tractors, as well.

With billions of bugs out there, you're bound to get bitten or stung sometime in your life. Thankfully, relief for bites and stings is as close as the kitchen. Try the following home remedies the next time you have a run-in with an insect.

For more information about insect bites and allergies, and ways to treat them, try the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

 

 

Natural Home Remedies for Bites and Stings

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Applying a sliced onion to an insect bite can minimize infection and swelling.

Here are some simple home remedies for minimizing a sting's pain quickly and easily. Be sure to keep an eye out for signs of a more severe reaction so that medical help can be sought immediately if necessary.

Activated charcoal. This can help draw out toxins that cause inflammation, swelling, and itching. To make a paste, open up 2 to 3 capsules of charcoal, mix with enough water to make a paste, and apply to the affected area. After 30 minutes, wipe the paste off with a wet cloth.

Ice. Ice or any cold compress does triple first-aid duty by diminishing the itch, reducing inflammation and swelling, and easing the pain of bites/stings. Put crushed ice into a plastic bag (or use a bag of frozen vegetables), wrap it in a towel,

Vinegar. No matter whether it's the white or the apple cider variety, vinegar turns insect sting pain into a thing of the past. Pour it on the affected site, or mix it with baking soda to make a paste that you can apply to the bitten area. Out of vinegar? Try applying straight lemon juice instead.

Garlic. You might not get kissed, but you might not get bitten either if you eat your onions and garlic regularly. Just like humans, stinging insects are attracted or repulsed by odors in their environment. Perhaps it is to your advantage not to smell so sweet. Some people believe that by eating pungent foods such as onions and garlic, the smell of your sweat changes, sending out a signal to insects that you stink. And you do. While this theory hasn't been tested, it can't hurt to add an extra onion on your burger or an extra garlic clove to your salad dressing. (The effect only works with raw garlic or onions so don't cook them -- cooking not only destroys the stink, it also changes the active ingredients.) Just remember to have some mouthwash or gum on hand if you plan to talk to others!

Knife. Bees and yellow jackets leave evidence behind when they strike: their barbed stinger. It's not a pleasant sight to see this pulsating barb puncturing the skin and releasing venom. Carefully and gently remove the stinger by scraping it off with a knife blade. Don't reach for the tweezers or tongs. Squeezing and grabbing the stinger causes more venom to be pumped into the victim. After removing the stinger, apply a topical antiseptic, such as alcohol or Betadine.

Soap. Some kitchen cures are right under your nose -- take plain old bar soap, for instance. Besides keeping you squeaky clean, soap helps relieve the bite of the ubiquitous mosquito. Wet the skin and gently rub on soap. Rinse well. Be sure to use only nondeodorized, nonperfumed soap. Fancy, smelly soaps may irritate the bite area.

Bees, wasps, hornets -- be gone! Use the home remedies in this article to avoid and treat bites and stings, and focus your time and energy instead on summertime fun.

For more information about insect bites and allergies, and ways to treat them, try the following links:

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Timothy Gower is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in many publications, including Reader's Digest, Prevention, Men's Health, Better Homes and Gardens, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. The author of four books, Gower is also a contributing editor for Health magazine.

Alice Lesch Kelly is a health writer based in Boston. Her work has been published in magazines such as Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Woman's Day, Reader's Digest, Eating Well, and Health. She is the co-author of three books on women's health.

Linnea Lundgren has more than 12 years experience researching, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines. She is the author of four books, including Living Well With Allergies.

Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers and Southern Living magazines. Formerly assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine, her professional passion is learning and writing about health.

ABOUT THE CONSULTANTS:

Ivan Oransky, M.D., is the deputy editor of The Scientist. He is author or co-author of four books, including The Common Symptom Answer Guide, and has written for publications including the Boston Globe, The Lancet, and USA Today. He holds appointments as a clinical assistant professor of medicine and as adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

 

 

 

 

and apply to the site for 20 minutes. Do not, however, apply the ice or bag of frozen food directly to the skin -- you may do more damage than good!