What to do When Bugs Bite

Bug bites seem like an inevitable part of the summer outdoors. Whether you’re going on a family adventure in the woods or trying to have a relaxing day by the pool, the bugs always find a way to be a part of it!

As common as bug bites may be, there are ways to reduce their effects and overall likelihood. Here’s how to enjoy your summer with fewer bites:

Bug Bite Prevention

If you take care to include bug bite prevention into your daily routine, you won’t have as many bites to treat. There are a few different ways to keep the bugs away:

  • Use insect repellent
  • If sunscreen is part of your routine, choose a sunscreen with insect repellent in the formula
  • Some popular brands offer products you can clip on your clothing to keep the bugs away while you enjoy the outdoors
  • Wear long pants, long sleeves, and ankle socks whenever you can, especially on hikes or nature walks
  • Use bug netting around your yard, any decks or patios, and ensure you have screens in any windows
  • Treat the problem at the source and have your yard treated for mosquitoes and other biting insects. You can do this yourself or hire a professional to take care of it for you.

Bug Bite Treatment

The way you approach a bug bite depends on the severity. For any bites that cause mild to moderate reactions, you can handle them at home. Any bug bite that appears to trigger a severe reaction such as anaphylaxis needs the immediate attention of a medical professional.

Mild or Moderate Reactions

The majority of bug bites you will encounter will likely have mild aftereffects and do not require specialized attention. Common signs of a mild-to-moderate reaction include swelling, stinging and itching – all of which disappear after a couple of days.

You can treat this type of bite or sting by:

  • At the first sign of a bite, products like “The Bug Bite Thing” use suction to remove insect saliva or venom from bug bites and stings. By removing the irritant, the body will stop producing the reaction that causes uncomfortable symptoms such as itching, swelling and pain.
  • If it is a sting, take care to remove the entire stinger
  • As quickly as you can, wash the area with soap and water
  • Dampen a cloth with cold water (or fill it with ice) and apply it to the area of the bite or sting for about 10 to 20 minutes
  • Elevate the area if it is on an arm or a leg
  • Frequently apply calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, or baking soda paste to the affected area(s) until symptoms disappear
  • If needed, take an over-the-counter pain reliever (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen sodium or whatever your pharmacist recommends)
  • Take an antihistamine allergy medication by mouth to reduce any itching (Allegra, Claritin or whatever your pharmacist recommends)

Severe Reactions

Severe reactions require quick action. Should you be able to identify the following symptoms, be prepared to call 911 as soon as you recognize any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swollen face, lips, throat or eyelids
  • Loss of consciousness or fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Hives
  • Vomiting, diarrhea or nausea

While you wait for professional help, you can take a few steps on your own. Take Benadryl or a strong antihistamine as possible. If there is severe swelling, loosen any tight clothing over the area and provide alternative coverage. If there is vomiting, do not eat or drink anything.

Monitor any bug bites you have to see if they are of growing concern. Rarely, they may lead to infection and may require follow-up treatment. Clean bites at least daily to reduce the risk of any infection.

This summer doesn’t have to be an itchy one – stay aware and be prepared for bug bites and stings. Sometimes bites are unavoidable, and if a mild or moderate bite or sting needs a little extra care, the staff at our urgent care locations are here to help.

What to do When Bugs Bite