As you may have read, I received a nasty horsefly bite (through my leggings, no less!) while we were out walking in Rufford on Saturday. If you have ever had one before, you will know just how swollen and itchy they become and that they take much longer than regular bites to heal. (don’t worry, I’m not going to show you a picture of my icky bite!)
As it is one of the things that can (and does) happen quite regularly when you’re an outdoorsy type, I thought that it might be rather useful to add some info and tips about treating them – to help you have the least miserable time with them possible! I’ll also include a list of things that you can keep in your hiking bag/camping fist aid kit to keep you sorted while out and about (a lesson we learned while in Rotterdam after being chowed on by a mosquito to humorous, but itchy effect – looks at my lips and forehead and Jit’s poor eye!!)
The treatment of horsefly bites is relevant for any bites (including mosquitos) but be aware to check the ingredients of products before using in case of allergy. Sometimes the simplest of treatments can be enough to keep you going.
How to treat a horsefly bite, and other biting bug bites
Soak a flannel or cloth in cold water and place over the bite, this will help to cool the hot area and reduce the swelling. If you have ice packs on you, these can be used too once wrapped in a towel.
It might sound a bit on the grim side, but saliva has anti-histamine properties so rubbing spit into the bite wound will help to take down the sting and the itching.
This can be a really hard one, especially while you are sleeping, but try your best not to scratch it as he bacteria on your hands will potentially make it worse and could case infection. The best way that I have found to prevent scratching is (not oven gloves!) cooling and treating the area immediately before bed so that it is not as itchy as it would be.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera has mild antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties which work well for the bit area and reduces the itchy feeling. I like to use it morning and night and the best thing about it, you can’t overdose on it, so you can apply some every time the itching flares up again.
Anti-histamine Tablets / Hay Fever Tablets
These will help to reduce the swelling and fight the histamine that your body is creating. I would recommend that if you react quite badly to bites that you get on these straight away (Jit reacts badly and getting him on the anti-histamine helps reduce things quickly)
1% Hydrocortisone Cream
This helps to reduce the swelling and curb the itching. You can buy mild hydrocortisone cream over the counter at Boots/Superdrug or your local pharmacy and I think it is super useful to keep in your first aid kit (it treats prickly heat too!)
Pack into your Rucksack and First Aid Kit
- Anti-histamine Tablets
- Hydrocortisone Cream
Hopefully you don’t get bitten, but it is certainly useful to know what to do if you do – and to have something on hand to help too. I would also recommend keeping some dry wash or hand sanitiser on you so that you can clean the area and your hands before treating.
ALSO if you get a severe reaction to a bite of the redness starts to track a line upwards towards your heart, seek medical attention.
Here’s to not scratching and healing quickly!