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How to avoid insect bites

Insect bites and stings can be painful – and occasionally dangerous. So how can you reduce your risk of being bitten? Here’s a look at some of the most common annoyances:

Ticks

Related to spiders, there are many species of tick in the UK, though sheep ticks are the most likely to bite humans. They are around the size of a poppy seed when they bite, so are very hard to see. You might not notice a tick bite as they aren’t usually painful. However, some people will suffer swelling or blistering and itchiness.

Ticks are generally found in any areas with deep or overgrown vegetation, where they have access to animals on which to feed. Although they are common in woodland or heath areas, ticks can also be found in parks or gardens – and by brushing against something they’re on, you can inadvertently help them climb onto your skin.

If you find a tick on your skin, you’ll need to remove it as you’re more likely to become infected if the tick is attached to your skin for more than 24 hours. It’s important to remove ticks properly with a tick-removal tool or fine-tipped tweezers to avoid any part of the tick remaining and causing infection.

Not all ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, but those that do can transfer it to humans. In the early stages, Lyme disease can cause a distinctive circular rash at the site of the bite and/or flu-like symptoms (such as tiredness, muscle/joint pain, fever, headaches and neck stiffness).

If not treated early, in some cases Lyme disease can lead to more serious symptoms such as problems affecting the nervous system or heart. Find out more about Lyme disease and when to see your GP at http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Lyme-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Reduce your risk of tick bites:

 

Wasps and bees

The good news is that in the UK, you are unlikely to get a wasp sting until autumn, according to wasp-repellent producer Waspinator – that is “unless you accidentally put your hand or foot on one and they are defending themselves, or unless you disturb a wasps’ nest”. And bees are unlikely to sting, unless they are stepped on or disturbed.

However, minimising your exposure to wasps and bees is the best way to not get stung:

 

Mosquitoes

According to Rentokil.com, “In the UK it is rare for mosquitoes or biting insects to transmit disease. The main risk from mosquito bites is potential skin irritation”.

When travelling, of course, the story is different. Special care (and often pre-holiday inoculation) is needed in areas where mosquitoes spread diseases such as Zika, dengue fever and malaria.

Read the latest advice at http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx

To avoid mosquito bites:

For more on UK insects that bite and sting, see http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/bites-and-stings/Pages/insects-bugs-that-bite-sting.aspx

 

Don’t forget that Benenden members can enjoy discount on travel insurance. For more information and to get your discount code, please visit www.benenden.co.uk/healthytravel

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