Bite to Itch – Summertime Insect Protection

Monday, July 09, 2012 9:31 AM comments (0)

Insect BitesWith warm weather comes bugs that bother – whether they bite, sting or carry disease and illness. Although the cases of people with West Nile virus and Lyme disease have been relatively small, it is better to exercise proper prevention than to suffer the consequences these conditions may bring.

Ernest Wang, MD, Emergency Medicine physician, provides the following tips for avoiding insects and treating bites:

  • Wear insect repellent with DEET, being certain to avoid contact with your mouth and eyes. Some repellents will work for mosquitoes, ticks and other pesky insects. Remember: It’s always best to follow the directions on the bottle. For additional prevention, use a repellent on your clothing; typically these are not suitable for skin and contain permethrin.
  • Dress appropriately if you plan to be in a wooded or grassy area. Pants and long sleeves are best, and are an excellent way to limit your skin exposure. Once you’re back inside it’s a good idea to shower. Not only will this wash away the repellent, but it may also wash away any ticks that haven’t yet latched onto your body. You’ll also want to be sure to check your entire body thoroughly for ticks (especially your ears, waist, head, belly button, arms and legs).
  • Avoid areas with standing water, as these are often hotbeds for mosquitoes and ticks.
  • Resist walking barefoot in the grass. Bees can often be on the ground and this will help you avoid being stung. It’s also wise to avoid perfumes and bright colors, as these may attract bees.
  • Treat your bites. If you do get bitten and develop a bite that is red or raised try:  1) applying an ice pack for 10-15 minutes 3-4 times a day and 2) taking Benadryl for itching will both provide symptomatic relief from the local insect bite reaction.  Bites rarely develop into a skin infection (cellulitis), but this usually takes several days. If there is any question, call your doctor to have it evaluated.
  • Know the signs of having a potentially dangerous anaphylactic (rapidly progressing allergic) reaction to a bite. Reactions are most commonly associated with stings by bees, wasps or hornets. Hives, swelling (of the face, eyes, tongue and lips), throat tightness, difficulty breathing, vomiting or feeling faint/lightheaded are all signs of potentially dangerous anaphylaxis, and you should contact your doctor immediately or call 911.

What do you do to avoid bug bites in the summer? Have you ever found a tick on your body?

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