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An anaphylactic reaction to an insect sting is a life-threatening medical emergency. Give epinephrine if it is available. Call for emergency medical assistance immediately. Alternative treatments are not appropriate.
For a normal insect sting response, or if you are having a mild allergic reaction to an insect sting, you may try some of the following for symptomatic relief.
Keep in mind that an alternative treatment is one that has not been proven to be effective. Some alternative treatments can have side effects or adverse interactions with other medications. It is a good idea to talk to your doctor before using any alternative treatments.
A paste made of baking soda and water may help reduce itching. Apply directly to the sting.
Mud can soothe the pain of an insect sting and reduce swelling. Apply directly to the sting.
Vinegar applied directly to an insect sting can help reduce pain and tighten the skin. Use plain white or apple cider vinegar.
Rubbing a wet aspirin on the sting might help reduce pain and swelling. In addition, there are several topical products that contain aspirin available.
Tamanu oil is purported to relieve pain and itch; reduce swelling; kill microbes; and promote healing. Because it is not marketed as a drug, there is no reliable data on tamanu oil’s safety, either overall or for specific situations such as an insect allergy.
Manuka oil is said to relieve pain, reduce redness and swelling, and kill bacteria. It has been shown to have adverse effects if used during pregnancy. Do not use if you are pregnant.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Staff
Medically reviewed on: Jul 24, 2014: Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD
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