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Bites

General characteristics

General characteristics

Bites from insects and/or animals can be irritating at best and dangerous or deadly in the worst cases. Some individuals experience allergies to bites such as fleas, bedbugs or horseflies while some will suffer or even die from the infectious diseases spread via the bite of the mosquito, tick or some types of flies for example.
Insect bites and stings can be classified as venomous (wasp, bee, ant etc) which are usually quite painful, red, hot and swollen but seldom itchy or non venomous (mosquito, flea, bedbug, sand fly, horsefly, lice, ticks etc) which tend to be itchy, red and swollen but seldom painful. This can be useful in treatment choices in  someone with a suspected bite or sting when the offending creature was not observed.
Many insects and creatures bite to obtain blood from you so inject a substance to keep your blood flowing freely from the bite point. Many of these substances cause swelling, itching and irritation in the surrounding skin. Most often the reaction stays local to the area immediately surrounding the bite but if such reactions are more widespread then medical advice should be sought.
It is important not to scratch the bite or sting as you may damage the skin more or introduce infection into the blood making healing longer and more complicated.
 

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Many people will confirm that eating various food types will deter bites from certain insects. Eating a few fresh garlic cloves daily is a classic example.

Many culinary herbs such as mint, thyme, oregano, basil, cinnamon, chillies and cloves have a good reputation for deterring biting insects.

Citrus fruits, in particular lemons, have good effect for some in repelling insects.

Foods rich in B vitamins such as brewers yeast have also been linked to a reduction in bites.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Dabbing the sting or bite with distilled witch hazel is cooling and soothing and helps to prevent infection.
For extreme redness, swelling and heat drink a strong (2 teaspoons per cup) cup of plantain tea every 2 hours or so to cool and prevent blood poisoning.
Fresh comfrey or borage leaves (soaked in hot water for a few minutes to soften the hairy texture) leaves can be applied as a cooling and anti-inflammatory poultice.
Any of the essential oils with antibacterial properties like tea tree, lavender, thyme, eucalyptus etc can be used as a wash or added to other preparations.
A tea made of marigold, chickweed, echinacea and st johns wort (equal parts) and use as a tea to both drink and apply as a wash to the skin.
Aloe vera gel on the bite or sting will calm inflammation and soothe itching.
Crush some fresh cleavers and apply to the bite/sting.

Natural healing

Natural healing

General advice is to avoid wearing dark or brightly coloured clothing. I suppose white or neutral colours are all that is left!
Avoid using synthetic personal hygiene products and opt instead for those containing natural plant chemistry and essential oils.
Run a bath and add a bag or clean sock with 2 handfuls of oats in it. This will soothe the irritation and itching.
Make a paste from oatmeal and honey and apply to individual bites to soothe and prevent infection.
If you have been stung and the stinger is still in your skin you should remove it as quickly and carefully as possible. Use tweezers or place a blunt knife or pencil for example a few centimetres away from the sting and gently but firmly push down as you move it towards the sting. This should effectively squeeze the stinger out.
Once the sting is removed wipe the area with cider (or ordinary) vinegar or with a solution made of water and bicarbonate of soda.
Fresh urine can be applied to a sting (once the stinger is removed) if no other remedies are to hand, it prevents swelling and eases pain.

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