Over-the-counter insect bite remedies are just not worth buying , say experts
00:22 GMT, 12 April 2012
Futile: New research suggests there is little evidence that over-the-counter insect bite remedies work
When the itching becomes too much, it’s not surprising many of us reach for a remedy after an insect bite.
But the medicine could be simply a waste of both time and money.
Research suggests that most victims of home-bred midges, mosquitoes, flies, bedbugs and fleas will get better without any treatment at all.
It admits that getting bitten may be horribly uncomfortable but there is little evidence that over-the-counter remedies work.
Putting a cold compress to relieve pain and swelling could be a better option.
That was the verdict of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, which offers impartial advice to doctors. Its review of evidence found that, in most cases, no treatment was needed as the reaction was so mild.
Many preparations are available but few have been properly tested against bites.
Because of their use in other areas, such as steroid cream to reduce itching from eczema, it has been assumed they would help treat bites, said the DTB.
Antihistamine tablets, and steroid creams and tablets are widely recommended to calm itching but there is little evidence to back this up. The exception was people with eczema, added the bulletin.
It said creams with painkillers or anaesthetics are only ‘marginally effective’ but there is some evidence dilute ammonium solution may relieve itching or burning.
DTB deputy editor David Phizackerley said: ‘Our message is that most insect bites will clear up without treatment.’
Sheila Kelly, chief executive of the industry body for over-the-counter products, said the ingredients were known to work against chemicals causing the symptoms.