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Insect bites & stings

Insect bites can be painful or itchy, but scratching them can make the symptoms worse. Wash the affected area with soap and water and pat the skin dry.

The pain can be relieved by applying a cold compress (a cloth soaked in iced water).

If a sting is visible in the wound, remove it as soon as possible by scraping it out with a fingernail or a credit card. Grabbing the sting between the fingers or tweezers can cause the venom sac to squeeze its contents into the skin.

A local anaesthetic spray can reduce pain and a cream or ointment containing hydrocortisone can help reduce swelling and inflammation.

Low-dose hydrocortisone cream can be bought over the counter but should not be used on children under 10, or on the face or on broken or infected skin. Antihistamine cream and soothing creams such as calamine lotion can be helpful. Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol can relieve some of the discomfort.

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