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Treating Common Summer Bug BitesĀ 

common-summer-bug-bites

Reviewed by: Amy Hinshaw

While summer provides more opportunities to get out of the house and explore the great outdoors, the warm weather also brings several types of insects. Venturing outside for hiking, camping and other summer activities means a higher chance of experiencing bug bites. 

It’s essential to know what level of attention you or your child may need once bitten or stung by an insect. Some bites might require minimal treatment, while severe reactions will require immediate medical attention. Learn how to identify and treat specific bug bites below and ways to prevent those itchy red bumps every summer. 

Symptoms and Treatment for Bug Bites 

The most common bug bites come from bees, mosquitoes, wasps, ticks and spiders. These bites and stings can produce redness, swelling, itching or other unpleasant skin irritations around the affected area. Most bug bites will stay irritated for just a few days, though if symptoms last longer or cause a severe allergic reaction, it’s essential to seek medical attention right away. It’s also crucial to avoid scratching a sting or bite, which can lead to infection. 

At-home bug bite treatment might involve applying ice or using over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications or anti-itch creams. While most bug bites won’t last long, you can use OTC painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen for painful bites or stings. Remedies for bug bites that itch and swell include applying ice packs and OTC anti-itch creams like hydrocortisone. Don’t leave ice on the skin for more than 20 minutes at a time, and be sure to follow directions on OTC pills and creams.

Learn the differences between types of bug bites and how to heal bug bites fast:

Ticks

A tick bite will produce a small red bump that can sometimes be tricky to detect since it won’t cause immediate irritation symptoms. You can locate a tick bite by running your hands along your body for hard, unfamiliar nodules. If the tick has already dropped off, you might notice itchiness and redness. 

Closely examine your kids’ clothing and skin throughout the summer for ticks, especially if they’ve ventured into wooded areas or fields with tall grass. If you find a tick, use tweezers to remove it as quickly as possible to prevent Lyme disease. If you or your child feel symptoms like fever, chills, aches or pains or you have a rash, seek medical attention right away. 

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Mosquitoes

Mosquito bites come in the form of itchy, round red or pink bumps on the skin’s surface. You’ll know when you’ve been bit by a mosquito almost immediately since it will often come with a quick, sharp stinging sensation followed by itchiness. The irritation should typically only last a few days, though you can reduce the itch response and achieve the best bug bite relief when you:

  • Clean the affected area with soap and warm water.
  • Apply an ice pack for up to 20 minutes to reduce swelling and itching.
  • Place a paste mixture of baking soda and water on the area for 10 minutes.
  • Use an over-the-counter anti-itch cream. 

You should also avoid scratching the bite and keep it clean to prevent infection.

Bees and Wasps

A bee or wasp sting will bring immense sharp pain before fading into a dull ache. You can identify stings by a swollen red bump. While aching should disappear after a day, the symptoms can be much more severe for those allergic to bees or wasps and require immediate emergency medical care. 

Achieve bee sting relief through any of the following methods: 

Spiders

A spider bite will look like most other bites ā€” a red and inflamed mark on the skin that’s sometimes itchy or painful. While most symptoms of spider bites dissipate in a few days, bites from black widows or recluse spiders may produce more severe symptoms. 

A widow spider bite can come with redness, swelling, pain, cramping, nausea, vomiting and tremors. Recluse spider bites may look like a bite with a pale center and a red ring, and they may turn purple or dark blue. Symptoms of recluse bites include fever, aches, chills and increasing pain. In these cases, it’s essential to seek medical care immediately. If you aren’t sure what type of spider bit you, seek medical treatment.

When and Where Bugs Are Most Persistent 

Whether you live in Louisiana or you’re vacationing from out of state, you can expect to come in contact with various types of insects year-round. Throughout the fall and winter, you might notice more spiders, silverfish and flies. In the summer, you’ll find stinging bugs like wasps, hornets, mosquitoes, ants and ticks. Bugs will be particularly persistent in the warmer months, as the humid Louisiana climate provides an ideal environment for breeding. 

In Louisiana, we’re very familiar with mosquitoes! The best way to avoid these tiny insects is to stay away from standing water where they reproduce. As for ticks, it’s best to avoid grassy, brushy or wooded areas with lots of leaf litter. 

And when it comes to spiders, you’ll want to avoid the brown recluse or black widow, which are very dangerous and can be found in residential and urban Louisiana areas. Keep spiders out of your home by removing piles of wood and leaves or dark environments like old tires or buckets. 

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When to See a Doctor 

Some severe reactions can show up in minutes when bitten by an insect. It’s essential to visit a doctor for medical treatment immediately if you experience symptoms such as:  

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Swelling of lips, tongue and throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Blisters
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat 

Other symptoms may arise days after being bitten, such as muscle pain, flu-like symptoms or rash. Your doctor can treat you for possible medical issues or transmitted diseases. 

You should also see a medical professional if you don’t know what bit you or if you don’t know whether you’re allergic to whatever stung or bit you.

How to Keep From Getting Bug Bites

While most bug bites are harmless, some can spread diseases like Lyme disease, malaria, Zika virus and dengue. Whether you’re traveling or spending quality time outdoors, reduce your risks and keep yourself from getting bug bites by taking certain precautions: 

  • Use insect repellent: Use insect repellent that contains 20%-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing to protect yourself from mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs. Ensure that you follow the instructions on your repellent and reapply frequently. 
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants: If you plan to head out at night or hike in wooded areas, cover as much exposed skin as possible to prevent bug bites. Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks and closed shoes rather than sandals. Tuck your shirt into your pants and pull your socks over your pants for extra protection. You can also use insect repellent that contains Permethrin to pre-treat your clothing before hiking. Follow the instructions on your repellent carefully and allow your clothing to dry out for at least two hours before wearing them. 
  • Use bed nets: When camping or sleeping outside, use a bed net to prevent mosquito bites. Use one that’s been pre-treated with insecticide and tuck it under your mattress for better protection.
  • Check CDC travel warnings: Keep an eye on outbreaks by checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Travel Health Notices and paying attention to any travel warnings or recommendations. 

Visit SouthStar Urgent Care for Bug Bite Treatment 

If you’re experiencing bug bite symptoms worsening or persisting longer than expected, visit SouthStar Urgent Care. We’ll work to provide the utmost care and attention to your medical concerns and help you alleviate the undesirable effects of bug bites. If you’re experiencing severe bite or sting symptoms, it’s essential to seek medical care right away. 

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