When thinking of summer, most people think happy thoughts. Warm weather, BBQs, time by the pool… But summer is also the season for insect bites. All insect bites are allergic reactions to the saliva of the biting insect. Not exactly something most people want to be thinking about when they are drinking their ice-cold lemonade by the pool (while wearing sunscreen and a hat, of course). In order for you to spend as little time as possible thinking about these pesky insects and more time enjoying the nice weather, we have put together a list of some of the most common bites and how to avoid and/or treat them.
Mosquito Bites: Mosquito bites are the most common type of summer insect bite. Mosquitos breed in areas of standing water and usually are most prevalent in the hours from dusk to dawn. Prevention includes wearing long sleeves, long pants, and socks, and of course using insect repellant. Remember that mosquitos can bite through clothing so use of insect repellants is a very important preventative step… Plus, who wants to wear long sleeves and long pants in 100 degree weather? Insect repellants should contain either DEET, picardin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
Bee Stings: Bee stings can cause immediate pain, swelling, and itching at the site of the sting. People that are very allergic to bee stings can also develop severe reactions and go into anaphylactic shock. Symptoms of this cause swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth and airways, which can cause difficulty breathing and result in shock and even death if it goes untreated. If you know that you are allergic to bee stings, your doctor should give you a prescription for an Epi (epinephrine) pen, which can be injected immediately after the sting to prevent the severe allergic reaction.
Ticks: Ticks are most common in wooded areas and around tall grass. If you are going to be in susceptible areas it is recommended to wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks of a lighter color so that you can see if the tick attaches to clothing. Ticks are very small in size but once they attach to the skin, they can grow to be the size of a pencil eraser, or bigger. Ticks should be removed gently with tweezers. Tick bites can result in Lyme disease. Symptoms of Lyme disease can include a rash that’s often bull’s-eye shaped and slowly enlarges. If untreated, Lyme disease can cause joint pains and heart problems.
Minor insect bites can be treated with over the counter products such as 1% Hydrocortisone cream, Sarna lotion, or Calamine lotion. For severe itching, oral Benadryl may be taken. If these symptoms don’t resolve than you may need a prescription cortisone cream.
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