Whether it’s sitting at the ball field, camping out in the backyard, or spending time at the pool, spring and summer means lots of time outside! Unfortunately, bugs are one of the unpleasant accompaniments of warm weather.
Bug sprays and insect repellants are a great way to keep you from being bitten, but in case you fall prey to an insect this summer, here is a guide to some common bug bites and what you need to know about them:
Reaction: They feed on human blood, and they inject saliva when they bite, causing a minor immune reaction. Bites usually show up white and puffy, but go unnoticed until the itching starts and they turn reddish.
Treatment: A cold pack or bag filled with ice can help with the irritation and swelling. To calm the itching you can also try a hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. Call your doctor if bites become infected or your child develops a fever or a bad headache.
Steer clear: It’s recommended to keep your kids inside around dusk, when mosquitoes tend to be most active. If you know you’ll be outside around this time, apply repellent to and try and cover exposed skin with long sleeves and pants.
Reaction: Ticks like to burrow into snug warm areas of the body and unlike other bugs that bite, ticks will remain attached to your skin after they bite you. Often, tick bites go unnoticed so it’s important to be on the lookout. Muscle aches, stiff neck, fever, rash, joint pain and light sensitivity are all signs of a more severe infection. Seek medical attention for any rash or unusual symptoms associated with a tick bite.
Removal: Tick saliva can carry harmful bacteria; so removing a tick as soon as possible is key to preventing more serious infections like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. To remove a tick, grasp it with tweezers as close to the body as possible, and in a steady motion, pull it straight out. Don’t be alarmed if part of the tick’s mouthparts remains in the skin, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease are contained in the tick’s midgut. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic.
Bees, Wasps, and Yellow Jackets:
Where you find them: These stinging insects tend to be found in gardens, meadows, lawns, woods, and beaches. They are also attracted to food and garbage cans.
Reaction: The severity of a sting varies from person to person. There are three common types of reactions—normal, localized, and allergic. A normal reaction will result in pain, swelling, and redness around the sting site. A localized reaction will result in swelling that extends beyond the sting site. For example, a person stung on the ankle may have swelling of the entire leg. Although this may look alarming, it is generally no more serious than a normal reaction. Allergic reactions aren’t that common, but need to be taken seriously. If your child has trouble breathing, develops hives or swelling, vomits, or has diarrhea after a sting, get medical help immediately.
Post Sting: Make sure you don’t leave the stinger in the skin. If it’s still there, sweep it away with your hand or use a credit card to scrape it out; leaving it in or squeezing it out could release more of the bee’s venom into your body. From there you can apply ice to ease the swelling and apply hydrocortisone cream for itch relief.
Prevention: Bees are attracted to bright colors and patterns, so you and your children may want to dress in plan or neutral colors if you know you’re going to spend a lot of time outdoors. They also love sweet-smelling stuff, like perfumes, shampoos, or sugary drinks. If bees are nearby, try walking away slowly and calmly–most stings occur when bees are swatted at or stepped on and their stinger comes off accidentally.
**Any time you are bitten or stung by an insect it is important to pay attention to signs of allergic reactions. If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms or discomfort following a bug bite or sting seek medical attention immediately.