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Insect bite remedies 'don't work'

There is little evidence to show that over-the-counter remedies for insect bites work, a review has found.

In most cases it is not necessary to treat bites at all, a review in Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) concluded.

Most insect bites come from midges, mosquitoes, flies, fleas and bedbugs causing itching, pain and swelling. Some bites may prompt an infection, an eczema flare-up, or even anaphylactic shock and such cases clearly warrant appropriate treatment, the DTB said.

However, in most cases the reaction is so mild it is not necessary to treat them at all.

Antihistamine tablets are widely recommended to calm the itching associated with insect bites but there is little evidence to back this up.

Steroid creams and tablets are also recommended for itching and inflammation but there is no evidence to support their use. The only exception is for people with eczema.