I love the summer and everything, but when that brings with it an army of approximately 3533696210 mozzies and midges whose sole aim in life is to bite you to shreds, it can get irritating.
And when these bites swell up, they become even more unsightly. Already this summer I’ve suffered bulbous-looking arms and legs due to unforgiving levels of swelling from some of my bites, which has led me to one curious question: why do some insect bites swell up, but not all of them?
Obviously, it would make sense to ask the UK’s leading insect expert, Dr James Logan, who’s working in partnership with on behalf of Anthisan Bite & Sting Cream, so that’s exactly what I did.
“Most people will get some small swelling from a bite. This is a normal reaction,” Dr Logan said. However, “if the swelling gets bigger (more than 10cm) see a GP as this may be a sign of infection.
“Swelling can happen anywhere on the body,” Dr Logan explained. And the actual cause for such swelling? Not to do with an allergic reaction to the bite, as you might have imagined, but because the swollen bites have become more externally irritated than the others. “Perhaps by clothing or bedding rubbing against the bites,” the doctor said.
“If they become irritated they often become more itchy, which can cause the reaction to get worse. Often areas around the arms and legs can be worse because the bites get rubbed by clothing and irritated,” he added.
Dr Logan’s advice for irritated bites is, sadly, probably the same as your mum’s: “Don’t scratch them,” he warned.
If your bites become swollen, you’re advised to “keep the bite as clean as possible, use a cold compress and speak to a pharmacist about using antihistamines, pain killers and any inflammatories like ibuprofen.”