How to Recognize and Treat 7 Different Bug Bites
To Avoid Skin Damage and Even Scarring
Summer is just around the corner, and with all of the backyard BBQs, picnics and outdoor festivals comes one of the season’s inevitable nuisances: bugs.
Fortunately, most bug bites are harmless, so you can enjoy your time outdoors in peace.
Most insect bites cause only minor irritations, but it’s possible to have a more serious reaction, such as an allergic reaction or Lyme disease. So, knowing how to recognize different bites can save you a lot of unnecessary worry, or let you know that it’s time to seek help.
Here we’ve listed some of the most common bug bites you may encounter this summer, along with how to best treat them.
After a mosquito bites you, some saliva remains in the wound, causing an immune response to occur. The bite will typically swell and itch until your immune system can break down the saliva.
Mosquito bites are generally itchy red bumps that can range in size from very small to 1/2 inch. You can treat mosquito bites naturally using a paste made of baking soda and a small amount of water. Apply the paste to the bite, and apply a bandage over it to prevent yourself (or your child) from scratching the area.
An excellent, natural remedy to treat insect bites of all types is a simple paste made from baking soda and water. It’s safe for everyone, including children.
2. Bees, Wasps, Yellow Jackets, Hornets
A bee sting will leave a painful red bump, which may have a black dot inside of it if the stinger was left behind. If you see a stinger, remove it immediately using a pair of tweezers.
To clean the sting, use a bit of hydrogen peroxide, then apply an ice pack to reduce swelling. If the discomfort persists, you can apply the baking soda paste described above.
For those who are allergic to the venom, a sting can result in a life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause hives, difficulty breathing and swallowing, hoarseness, swelling of the tongue, dizziness and fainting. Emergency care is necessary in these cases. Because the venom of each insect varies, it’s possible to be allergic to a bee sting but not to a wasp sting, and so on.
Tick bites are painless and do not itch, but the tick will remain at the site and embed itself in your skin. To remove a tick, use tweezers to grab the tick as close to your skin as possible, and pull it upward with even pressure.
4. Chigger (Harvest Mites)
These mites are most common in the Southern United States. Their bites typically occur on the legs or along the beltline, and they show up as very itchy, small red bumps that may appear similar to chickenpox.
The site should be cleaned using hydrogen peroxide, and treated with an anti-itch cream such as calamine lotion or Drawing Salve.
Most spider bites are not serious. The only poisonous spiders in the United States are the black widow spider and the brown recluse spider. If you’re bitten by one of these spiders, you may experience muscle pain, sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache or high blood pressure within three to 12 hours. In this case, you should go to the emergency room immediately.
Fleas bite dogs, cats, humans and other animals to feed on their blood. An adult flea feeds on blood more than once a day.
Flea bites themselves are red and very itchy. On humans they typically occur on the ankles and legs. Fortunately, the fleas typically found in homes are “just a nuisance,” according to Marcia Larkins, D.V.M., chief of the companion and wildlife drugs branch in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. “They generally cause a lot of itching and scratching. They may also cause some discomfort due to possible allergic flea bite dermatitis.”
Once fleas are in your home, be sure to vacuum all carpets, floors and upholstered furniture every day for at least several weeks (dispose of the vacuum cleaner bag after each cleaning so the fleas don’t crawl out). This will go a long way toward getting rid of the fleas as quickly as possible.
7. Fire Ants
Fire ant stings are painful and also contain toxins that can be dangerous in large amounts, or to small children. Once you have cleaned the area with soap and water, it can be treated with a medicated cream to relieve pain — but should be watched for signs of infection or allergic reaction like trouble breathing or swelling.
Eventually, a blister will develop over the bite. When this happens, do not break the blister as this could lead to infection or scarring.