August's Blog Topic - Insect Bites

August's Blog Topic - Insect Bites

Our Topic of the Month for August is ‘Coping with Insect Bites’. It’s got to that time of year where the mosquitos are out by storm, biting anything they can find. A common symptom in lupus patients is severe reactions to insect bites. Therefore, we want you to let us know what insect repellents you’ve found useful, how you treat your insect bites and perhaps any products you’ve tried and would advise others to avoid. Please share your tips in the comment section below, or email Thank you.

23 Replies

  • Hello Paul

    Not about insect repellents but a warning to everyone if you do get bitten and think it will ok!

    Got bitten in the garden by a big fly/moth type thing. It left two teeth marks and was a bit red but not sore - in fact never did get sore. No swelling either. Washed it and never thought anything about it. "24 hours later felt like I was coming down with the flu - aching everywhere and temperature. Spent most of 48 hours in bed until I got so bad I rang for an ambulance myself.

    Temperate of 93'4 and very very ill - insect bite had entered system and developed into an e-coli infection. .

    Result of not thinking and not taking insect bites seriously!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Irene x

  • That sounds like a 'horsefly' they are nasty and I react very badly to them! MF x

  • Having being around horses most of my life and living in the Scottish Highlands, I live with bugs, the scottish midgie is the one biting bug we cant seem to get away from. I dont have horses anymore, but I used to spray the horses and myself with Avon's skin so soft. And its the only stuff that seems to keep the bugs at bay. And of course keeps you smelling nice too.

    I agree with Irene too, please do watch yourself when you get a bite, take it seriously, remember your immune system is not strong, so a bite to a normal person is just an annoyance, to a lupus patient, it can become something a bit more sinister x

  • Hi Paul.

    I was so surprised to see this topic on insect bites as last week when it was way too hot to shut the bedroom window at night I got 'attacked' by midges really badly!!

    I saw some coming in and went to look for my Avon's Skin So Soft as 'KittyCat' mentioned...I have found it always to be very good (esp during visits to Scotland!) but, I couldn't find it. I guessed the midges wouldn't be too bad..woke up next morning to find atleast 32 bites!!

    This was almost a week ago, I still have all the bites, but about 10-12 bites are driving me crazy! I have very swollen bumps where the bites are which are itchy beyond belief!

    I had no idea insect bites are worse if you have Lupus (SLE) which I do...the bumps are hard, white and some have swollen to about 2cm diameter.

    Should I go to the GP? I've tried SudoCrem and TCP but nothing is helping :-(

    Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks. x

  • If you're concerned about the bites and they are causing discomfort then I would think it is a good idea to see your GP. It can't do any harm and they may be able to advise or prescribe something that can help. We do have a blog on itching which may also be of benefit to you. You can read it here -

    It's meant for rashes, but I'm sure some of the advice may apply to any kind of itch.

  • To ease the irritation, I would suggest Aqueous Calamine cream (contains zinc oxide) and can be bought at any Pharmacy. (I put mine in the larder fridge, so that it cools the rash I get when in the sun for too long). When I worked in a Pharmacy, we also used to advise taking an anti-histamine, such as Cetirazine or Acrivastine, which suppresses the immune response to the insect bite. This is available in a cream form too, but not advisable if the bites are on the face.

    Another good tip - to keep unwanted flying insects out of the house - is Citronella candles. They don't smell - but the insects cannot abide them! (Made from a chemical extracted from citrus fruits - the plants own protection from the pesky invaders!)

    Hope this helps!

  • I too agree about the Avon range of Skin So Soft products to protect against insect bites. My daughter uses them for my grand-daughter too! The perfume may be a little too girly for the chaps though ;-)

  • I've always reacted badly to bug bites. Sometimes things like over the counter anthisan cream have helped, but if a bite goes ballistic right away or doesn't respond to an over the counter product within, say, 36 hrs I get ready to see my GP ASAP. E.G last summer, I had a really extreme bug bite reaction with cellulitis etc developing...treated successfully by my GP with flucloxacillin for a week. And I'd made sure to get a pic taken of the bite at its worse (like a massive red & pink bullseye on the back of an upper arm). So when I saw my dermy next, I was able to show her the pic. She advised me to apply dermovate cream to any bite I get from the outset.....I have dermovate on repeat prescription anyway for lichen sclerosus. She actually told me that many of her dermy colleagues take dermovate on their hols for bug bites. Of course, best to always check with your drs before using any med for something other than what it is prescribed for. But in this case, my prescribing consultant was advising me....and if this tip can help anyone in their negotiations with drs over their bug bites treatment: hooray!

  • I get severe reaction to insect bites - they come up as hard red itchy lumps (often quite large).

    The essential oil "citronella" helps stop getting bitten as midges do not like the smell.

    If I do get bitten I used Calamine lotion to ease the soreness, and this year I have also used a short course of "over the counter" anti-histamine tablets to stop the itching (my rhumatology nurse gave OK for using anti-histamine)

  • I took my son to the GP - he was covered knee to ankle in bites. They just gave his anti-histamine tablets. As mentioned before try drinking tonic water to stop mosquito bites - it works for some. I understand it is the quinine in the tonic that helps.

  • avons green dry oil skin so soft as said above a godsend my husband uses it to hes a gardener great stuff

  • Me to don't know why it works but Avon skin so soft does it for me.

    Perhaps we should approach Avon to get a advertising deal Ha

  • Hi,We have just got back after living for 6 1/2 years in catalunya in northeastern spain.The river ebro is the main river that flows down to the sea through the mountains and for a number of years now they have had a MASSIVE problem with an inocuous looking midge called mosca negra"black fly"that lays its eggs in the ebro but has migrated to the countryside either side of the river

    .Its a minute thing ,hardly visible ,and looks like a spec of dust ,however if you are bitten by one(they do draw blood) if you are lucky it will itch for days and swell a bit.If you arent(like me) your limb will swell,movement of the limb will be virtually impossible and the itching and pain will be a living hell for over a week!Doctors in the area are well used to adverse reactions to these things and very willing to give antihistamine injections if you come unstuck. The farmers there swear by a lotion called natural honey and they dont get bitten-they slather it on before they go out in the morning and reapply after lunch ..After applying it the only reason I got bitten was because I missed a patch of skin or had been sweating and the lotion had worn off.I have been told its effective because of something called hydrogen 5 which is in a lot of the lotions.Midges hate the stuff and avoid you if you are wearing it.If you go on holiday anywhere within 10 miles either side of the ebro takes some with you.It can be bought in the uk I think.Anti mosquito stuff does not work with these flies!

    about mosquito bites,an army friend said that all the troops are encouraged to eat MARMITE as much as possible(which thankfully I love).for anyone else yeast tabs or vit b complex should make your blood smell rank enough for them to leave you alone.

    happy holidays


  • I don't go anywhere without first covering myself in the boots once a day insect repellant anymore havin had 2 bites in the last 2 years both which have ended up turning into cellulitis and required IV antibiotics. So far this year my plan has worked and I haven't been bitten once

  • I was bitten about 2 yrs ago in the summer whilst sitting in the back garden. I never saw what it was but, the next day my left foot looked like it belonged to the elephant man. GP said it was infected and gave me antibiotics and antihistamines. The following month I became allergic to the cold to the extent that I now come out in great big hives and itch like mad when I get cold. Going to the supermarket is a nightmare in the chiller section. Even my mouth is itchy when eating icecream :-( I saw a dermatologist who put me on double the recommended dose of antihistamines which I still take. I wasn't even allowed to dye my hair or use perfumed washing products. I got in free to an event cos they thought I was over retirement age due to my grey hair and walking stick :-(, my husband thought that hilarious! I got bored of that then so after a skin test I dye my hair about every 6 weeks now.

    All because of an insect bite...what a nightmare!

  • Thanks for making me smile, Yvette....even though you obviously have discomfort to deal with!

    Up until this last year, I didn't look my age (63) as my skin was clear, could run for a bus, had most of my own teeth, and was able to dye my greying hair. SLE has changed all that...... my hair is thin and lifeless (doesn't take to colour very well, so quite white), I walk with a stick, and skin is often red and blotchy all over, and this week I have cracked lips and "panda" eyes !!!!

    It is a good thing that my husband knows the "real" me, because I feel like his maiden Aunt when we go out......


  • My solution...don't get thing to repel the little biters...MARMITE !!! If like me you can't stand the can take a full vitamin B complex...keeps them away completely and I haven't been bitten for a few years now..where I used to get eaten alive x keep smiling people :D and hopefully bite free x

  • my insect bites used to turn into massive boil like blisters and my GP advised anti-histamines that contain 'cetirizine', i now take them all summer to prevent any reactions and have found them to really make a difference

    if i do get bitten it isn't as bad now and i use eurax cream which really helps the itching

    hadf no idea bad reactions to bites was related to my lupus, explains a lot!

  • I have recently invested in a mosquito net, it's bliss to be able to sprawl out on top of my bed without being bitten, especially when my temperature is flaring.

  • Hi all.

    I have been bitten 6times this week..okay i like to walk early eve with my dog in the woods.

    The bite i got last night was from something that did draw blood,the lump that is left in my arm is so itching and painful even on prescription anti-histamine :( One of the other bites which is on my little finger made it swell so much bending was near impossible!i used to laugh at people and midgy bite tales,,not anymore!!i remeber may years ago whilst out off road mountain biking after a quite tricky decent down a forest off road pathway,,i fell into a bunch of nettles,,oh my,,yes did the lumps come up as golf ball shapes,,first timei had ever had a reaction this bad,,just of guessed then something wern't right!!Paul you asked for products that help to deter mozzies,,lol sorry for waffling on,,,the citrus candles burned whilst outdoors at night i think keep them away,,i have yet to ind something to deter them,,and when bitten i apply sudocrem and or teatree...hey i also love marmite and been a while since had any,,guess where i off too!! x

  • I noticed that some of you recommend skin so soft. I used that last time I went to Scotland and I think I had a reaction to it, my face felt all prickly and came up in a red rash. It's hard to know wether that was a reaction or just a lupus rash .. I'm not sure what's worse the rash or the midge bites!! We are going to Scotland again in early September so I'll try the Marmite/Vit B thing as well this time.

  • I was in the garden and there were lots of midges, I had protective clothing on so they did not bite my body or hands, I had Aveda Daily Light Guard on my face, it has essential oils in so they did not bite that, but they got down inside my coat and bit my neck and chest. I had to put Anthisan on which I find works quite well. A few days later I found a big bite on the side of my hand which has taken a while to stop itching, I think it could have been a more toxic insect.

    I have heard antihistamise tablets can be useful too but you would need to check with your doctor.

  • Very grateful to read about skin so soft. Hate using the normal chemicals as they irritate, so will give it a try along with the Marmite. Never linked the problem with insect bites to my lupus so thanks a lot everyone I know to be careful now.

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