Doubts over insect-bite treatment

Image caption The bed-bug feeds on blood

People should consider using a cold, wet cloth to treat insect bites instead of turning to over-the-counter remedies, experts say.

An investigation has concluded that there is little evidence that creams, painkillers and anti-inflammatories often used for bites actually work.

In any case, said Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin researchers, the reactions got better by themselves in most cases.

Midges, mosquitoes, flies, fleas and bed-bugs account for most bites.

A variety of remedies are sold over the counter in pharmacies to relieve the itching, pain and swelling.

Cold flannel 'best'

Researchers from the journal reviewed a host of data and evidence published on insect-bite treatments.

It concluded in many cases treatments for insect bites had not actually been tested for such purposes.

It said medical help should clearly be sought if serious symptoms, such as infections or anaphylactic shock, developed.

But it said for simple bites a flannel or cloth soaked in cold water often worked best - despite advice from official bodies, such as NHS Choices, suggesting treatments should be used.

David Phizackerley, the deputy editor of the journal, said: "People are using these treatments so they should know there is no evidence they work. [Most] bites will get better on their own."

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