Remedy for a Swollen Lip From a Bug Bite

Bug bites are an annoying and common occurrence, especially during the warm spring and summer seasons. Common culprits include mosquitoes and flies. Unlike stings, most bug bites do not involve injection of venom into the skin. Instead it's saliva from the bug's mouth that causes local irritation and swelling. A bug bite on or near your lip often causes this type of localized swelling, which typically does not pose a serious health threat. Home treatment is usually sufficient to deal with this type of normal reaction to a bug bite.

Applying a cold pack to a bug bite helps limit swelling. (Image: serasker/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Gently clean the site of the bite with soap and water to help stave off a possible infection. Be careful not to get soap in your mouth when cleaning your lip. If you don't have immediate access to soap, rinse the area as best you can with clean water.

Step 2

Apply a cold pack or ice wrapped in damp washcloth to your swollen lip as soon as possible after the bite. Hold the ice or cold pack in place until the area feels slightly numb -- usually about 15 to 20 minutes -- then remove it and allow the area to rewarm. Reapply the cold pack or ice as needed to limit swelling in addition to pain and itching that can accompany a bug bite.

Step 3

If the bug bite is itchy or painful, apply a cotton ball soaked in a watery paste made with baking soda and water. Hold the soaked cotton ball in place for 15 to 20 minutes. If you get some of the baking soda solution in your mouth, just spit it out. Rinse the paste off your lip after the application.

Step 4

If the bug bite remains slightly swollen and itchy, consider taking an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Antihistamines can help limit inflammation at the site of the bug bite and reduce itchiness. If you're unsure whether an over-the-counter antihistamine is safe for you, call your doctor to check before taking the medication.

Step 5

Monitor your condition. Watch for signs or symptoms that could indicate a severe allergic reaction, including: -- hives -- rapid or spreading swelling near the bite -- swelling of your face or tongue -- difficulty breathing, wheezing or chest tightness -- racing or pounding heartbeat -- hoarseness or a change in your voice -- lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting -- anxiety or confusion

Seek emergency medical care if any of these signs or symptoms occur.

Things You'll Need

  • Soap

  • Cold pack or ice

  • Baking soda

  • Cotton balls

  • Oral antihistamine

Warning

A bug or spider bite, or insect sting distant from your lip that causes generalized swelling of your lips, face or tongue typically signals a severe allergic reaction, which can be life-threatening. Seek emergency medical care if this occurs, especially if accompanied by any of the warning signs and symptoms previously noted.

See your doctor right away if you develop signs or symptoms of infection or another complication of a bug bite, including: -- severe or worsening pain -- ulceration of the skin at the site of the bite -- expanding redness or warmth around the bite -- fever or chills -- drainage of pus -- development of new sores near the bite

Reviewed and revised by: Tina M. St. John, M.D.

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