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Boots Superintendent Pharmacist shares symptoms and treatments for the most common bites and stings

04 August 2023
News Healthcare
  • Boots Superintendent Pharmacist Claire Nevinson shares her advice on how to treat some common bites and stings, including wasps, bees, ticks and horseflies
  • Boots offers a range of bite and sting related products – from cooling sprays and creams to handy roll-on repellents and kids sprays, with buy one get second half price on selected healthcare

There’s nothing more annoying than getting bitten or stung whilst enjoying the warmer weather outside and they can be unpleasant, itchy and irritating.

From mosquito bites to bee stings, Claire Nevinson, Superintendent Pharmacist at Boots, shares her advice on how to treat some of the most common bites and stings, and what to do differently depending on the cause.

Claire said: “Insect bites and stings can be uncomfortable and irritating, but fortunately are usually nothing to worry about and can be easily treated. When treating a bite or sting, it can be tricky to know the cause, particularly if you didn’t see it happen, but don’t worry, as the process for treating them is similar.”

Wasps, bees & hornets
“A wasp sting causes a sudden, sharp pain at first, followed by a swollen red mark which may form on your skin. This may be painful and itchy and can last a few hours. Occasionally, the sting can cause a minor allergic reaction, which can be painful, red and swollen for up to a week. A bee sting feels similar, but the sting can be left in the wound. If this occurs, this should be removed as soon as possible using tweezers, before washing the area with soap and water. If there's swelling, apply a cold compress such as an ice pack, or flannel soaked in cold water, for at least ten minutes and where possible, elevate the affected area to help reduce any swelling.” 

“Mosquito bites can be annoying and itchy, causing small red lumps on your skin. Mosquitos can spread serious illnesses, such as malaria, in some parts of the world, but do not cause major harm in the UK. It is advisable to try to cover exposed skin if spending time outdoors, especially at the time of day when mosquitos are most likely to be more active, including sunrise or sunset. There are several insect repellent products available which, when used according to their instructions, can help reduce the risk of being bitten. In addition, if you’re travelling abroad, you should check if antimalarial medication is recommended for the country and region you will be visiting – you can do this using Boots’ online quick check tool.”

“Tick bites usually aren't painful, but sometimes they can produce an allergic reaction. On rare occasions, they can cause Lyme disease, which is a bacterial infection that causes a pink or red circular rash to develop around the area of the bite. If you've been bitten by a tick, you should try to remove the tick as soon as possible using fine-toothed tweezers to gently grip the tick as close to the skin as possible, before pulling steadily away from the skin without twisting or crushing the tick. You should then wash your skin with water and soap afterwards and apply an antiseptic cream to the skin around the bite.” 

“Horsefly bites can be very painful and if you have been bitten, you may experience a red, raised rash, dizziness, weakness, wheezing or you may notice part of your body becoming puffy and swollen. Horsefly bites can take some time to heal and can become infected. Therefore, if you think the bite has become infected, which may show as increased pain, redness, swelling and there may be pus coming from the bite wound, you should see your GP straight away. 

“You can speak to your Boots pharmacist for advice and suitable over-the-counter treatments to help relieve any pain, itching and/or swelling due to the bite or sting. If you’re worried, your symptoms don’t improve, or they get worse speak to your pharmacist or GP. If you have a severe allergic reaction, including difficulty breathing, chest pain, fits or seizures, severe swelling, vomiting or light-headedness or loss of consciousness, you should go the A&E or call 999 immediately.

“Anyone who suffers from severe allergies and is at risk of an anaphylactic reaction, should ensure they always have two adrenaline auto-injectors with them. Boots Online Doctor has an  

Anaphylaxis Treatment service, which can provide treatment if you’ve had a previous prescription, and if suitable, help you prepare for allergy emergencies.”* 

Boots is the leading healthcare provider on the high street, offering the biggest range of health and wellness products and an expanding range of services. Visit the Boots Health Hub to find out more.

Bite and Sting relief products**

Summer health offer: Buy 1 get 2nd 1/2 price on selected healthcare at***


*Access to treatment is subject to an online consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Subject to availability. Charges apply.

** The Boots Superintendent Pharmacist does not endorse these products.

*** Buy 1 get 2nd 1/2 price on selected summer healthcare products. Cheapest 1/2 price. Offer available in-store & online. Offer available until 12.09.23. Subject to availability. Always read the label. 


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Boots is the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer with over 52,000 team members and 2,100 stores, ranging from local community pharmacies to large destination health and beauty stores.*

Boots serves its customers and patients for life as the leading provider of healthcare on the high street and the UK’s number one beauty destination. It offers an unrivalled depth and breadth of products, which incorporates its extensive own brand range and innovative portfolio of brands, including No7, the UK’s No1 skincare brand, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle Beauty and Sleek MakeUP.

2024 marks Boots’ 175th anniversary year. Founder John Boot opened a herbalist store in Nottingham in 1849 to offer an affordable alternative to traditional medicines. His son Jesse expanded the business to become a modern retailer and the biggest chemist in Britain. Throughout its history, Boots has listened, learned and innovated, and it continues to challenge itself to improve its products and services every day.

Boots is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which is a global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail.  More company information is available on

*Figures accurate as of 30 November 2023