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From Ouch to Itch: Common Bug Bites and Treatments

Whether it’s a mosquito buzzing, a vicious bee or a hidden tick, bugs (and arachnids) are unwelcome visitors at most outdoor activities! Keeping bugs at bay with sprays and repellents helps keep you from being bitten, but in reality, most of us will fall prey to a six- or eight-legged creature at some point this summer.

Old wives tales abound with remedies and treatments for bee stings, mosquito bites and tick bites, but relying on a doctor’s advice can keep you from becoming sicker from something as common as a bite. Most bites are harmless, but danger lurks if you don’t treat them promptly and properly.

We’ve put together a guide to some of the most common bug bites and what you need to know about them:

  • Mosquito Bites: Mosquitoes 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. A cold pack or bag filled with ice can help with the irritation and swelling. To calm the itching, try a hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion.
    • When to worry: Mosquitoes are known to carry blood-borne diseases like West Nile virus, encephalitis, malaria and yellow fever. If your bites are accompanied by fever, redness and swelling around the bite areas, headaches, body aches or swollen lymph nodes, it’s time to seek medical attention.
  • Bee Stings: Bee venom causes an immune reaction in the body, typically resulting in swelling and inflammation around the site of the sting. If you’re stung by a bee and are not allergic, use a straight edged item like a credit card to remove the stinger by swiping side to side across the surface of the sting. Topical analgesics and creams can help relieve pain and swelling caused by bee stings.
    • When to worry:  If you are allergic to bee venom and have an anaphylactic reaction or suffer multiple stings, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Tick Bites: Most tick bites go unnoticed, so it’s important to be on the lookout. Tick saliva can carry bacteria, so removing a tick as soon as possible is key to preventing more severe 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 pull it straight out. If possible, put the tick in a sealed plastic bag. Your doctor may need to see the tick if your bite worsens.
    • When to worry:  Muscle aches, stiff neck, fever, rash, joint pain and light sensitivity are all signs of a more severe infection. Lyme disease is often accompanied by a rash in a bull’s eye pattern. A rash on the wrists and ankles can indicate Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Seek medical attention for any rash associated with a tick bite.

Do you know what types of bites are common where you live? Do you have any tried and true remedies or ways to prevent bug bites?