The best way to beat mosquito bites is, of course, to avoid them in the first place. A good insect repellent, combined with proper clothing and some commonsense steps around your home, can help. But some bites as well as stings can get through your defenses anyway. Here's how to treat the bites and stings of these insects.

For Mosquito Bites

Cool compresses and an over-the-counter steroid cream, such as hydrocortisone (Cortizone-10 and generic), can ease itching from mosquito bites.

Applying calamine lotion or dabbing on undiluted white vinegar might also help, says Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser.

See a doctor if you have mosquito bites and develop a fever, a headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands, or a rash on your torso, which could be a sign of a more serious illness, such as West Nile virus.

For Tick Bites

If you find one, use tweezers to remove the tick, making sure you get the entire body and head.

Get medical help if you develop any signs or symptoms of a tick-borne illness. In addition to the classic bull’s-eye rash of Lyme disease, tick-borne illnesses can cause chills, fever, fatigue, headaches, and muscle or joint pain.

More on Biting Bugs

The American College of Rheumatology says that if you have those symptoms and have been in an area known for ticks, you usually don't need a blood test, but can instead start treatment right away.

That's important, because prompt treatment with antibiotics usually cures infections and prevents complications such as acute arthritis and facial paralysis (with Lyme disease), difficulty breathing or bleeding disorders (ehrlichiosis), and widespread heart, joint, or kidney damage (Rocky Mountain spotted fever).

Image of a tick biting. How to treat tick and mosquito bites.

For Insect Stings

If you’re stung by a bee, carefully remove the stinger. Cold compresses, hydrocortisone creams, and oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl Allergy and generic) can help ease burning or itching.

You can take an OTC pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic), ibuprofen (Advil and generic), or naproxen (Aleve and generic).

If you’ve experienced severe reactions to insect stings in the past, consider carrying a prescription epinephrine injector such as an EpiPen. Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs suggests a low-cost Impax epinephrine auto-injector called generic Adrenalick, which you can get from CVS for $60 after a $50 savings card available here.