IF you have been out enjoying the sun over the past couple of days, chances are you have managed to return home with at least one itchy bite or lump.

Most insect bites and stings cause itching and swelling that usually clears up within several hours.

But here’s a few tips if it’s driving you mad.

1. Identifying insect bites

An insect bite or sting often causes a small lump to develop, which is usually very itchy.

A small hole, or the sting itself, may also be visible.

The lump may have an inflamed (red and swollen) area around it that may be filled with fluid. This is called a weal.

2. And in more extreme cases..

Bites from midges, mosquitoes and gnats often cause small papules (lumps) to form on your skin that are usually very itchy.

If you're particularly sensitive to insect bites, you may develop:

bullae – fluid-filled blisters

weals – circular, fluid-filled areas surrounding the bite

3. Horsing around

A bite from a horsefly can be very painful.

As well as the formation of a weal around the bite, according to NHS advice, you may also experience:

urticaria – a rash of weals (also called hives, welts or nettle rash)

dizziness

weakness

wheezing

angio-oedema – itchy, pale pink or red swellings that often occur around the eyes and lips for short periods of time

4. Nasty nip

Horseflies cut the skin when they bite, rather than piercing it, so horsefly bites can take a long time to heal and can cause an infection.

5. How to treat them

Minor bites and stings can be treated by washing the affected area with soap and water or placing a cold compress (a flannel or cloth cooled with cold water) over the affected area to reduce swelling

Winsford Guardian:

6. But definitely don't... 

Scratch the area as it can become infected. Make sure you keep children's fingernails short and clean to avoid infection. NHS advice adds you should see your GP if the redness and itching gets worse or doesn't clear up after a few days.

7. If it's really bad

If the bite or sting is painful or swollen, you can also wrap an ice pack, such as a bag of frozen peas, in a towel and place it on the swelling or take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

NHS advice also includes using a spray or cream that contains local anaesthetic, antihistamine or mild hydrocortisone (1%) on the affected area to prevent itching and swelling or taking an antihistamine tablet to help reduce swelling (antihistamine tablets are available on prescription or from pharmacies)

8. Buzz off

If you’re treating a bee sting - as soon as you've been stung by a bee, remove the sting and venom sac if it's been left in your skin. Do this by scraping it out, either with your fingernails or something with a hard edge, such as a bank card.

When removing the sting, be careful not to spread the venom further under your skin and don't puncture the venom sac.

Winsford Guardian: Help to boost bee population at Wimborne

9. But don't...

Pinch the sting out with your fingers or a pair of tweezers because you may spread the venom. If a child has been stung, an adult should remove the sting.

Wasps and hornets don't usually leave the sting behind, so they could sting you again. If you've been stung and the wasp or hornet is still in the area, walk away calmly to avoid being stung again.

10. Best way to avoid being bitten is... 

Consultant Dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, Dr Anjali Mahto says the best way to avoid being bitten is insect repellent.

She added: “Chemical-based Diethyltouamide (DEET) is probably the most effective chemical repellent available and has a good safety record.

“Research has shown that a repellent containing approximately 20 per cent DEET will protect the wearer for about five hours.”

11. Or maybe think about transforming your wardrobe

An estimated 10 to 20 per cent of people are highly attractive to mosquitoes and consistently get bitten more often than others

While genetics are thought to count for up to 85 per cent of our susceptibility to insect bites, scientists also believe clothing colour could be a factor.

Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours such as black and navy blue, as they use vision along with scent to locate their targets, so it's best to dress in light colours such as white or pastels.

Winsford Guardian: