Summer, with beautiful, warm, sunny days brings out the kid inside everyone. It’s impossible to resist spending as much time outdoors as possible. Normally bug bites are just a mild nuisance, but dermatologists do see a fair number of patients during the summer months for insect-related issues.
Fitness.com has an interesting and informative article on insect bites and treatments.
The article offers preventative tips such as applying an insect repellent like DEET. More natural options, like oil of lemon eucalyptus, geranium, soybean, and citronella oil are also possibilities.
It’s important to remind patients to not apply DEET repellent and sunscreen at the same time due to the risk of the DEET being absorbed into the body at higher than recommended levels. A good rule of thumb is to wait 20 minutes after applying repellent and then apply sunscreen. Do not apply DEET over cuts or wounds.
Other common-sense tips include wearing light-colored, protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants. Ticks on clothing can be killed by placing the clothing in a dryer for 10 minutes after returning home from infested areas.
Although mosquito bites are very common, serious complications are rare in the US. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to any insect bite, so seek immediate medical help if hives, difficulty breathing, or vomiting occurs after a bite.
Rarely, infected mosquitoes can spread dengue fever, West Nile virus, the Zika virus, yellow fever, and malaria. Most normal mosquito bites can be treated with hydrocortisone cream, either over-the-counter or a prescription version from the dermatologist.
Ticks also have a bad reputation. Tick bites are fairly common in certain areas of the country. The bite can look much like a mosquito bite, but about three days after being bitten a circular rash might develop, resembling a bullseye and measuring 12 inches in diameter or more.
If a tick is found in the skin, it must be removed either at home or by a dermatologist. If possible, preserve the extracted tick in a plastic bag to take to the dermatologist for testing.
It is important to visit the dermatologist after a tick bite if fatigue, achy joints, or flu symptoms develop. These are possible indicators of Lyme disease. If necessary the antibiotic doxycycline can be administered within 72 hours of a tick bite to prevent the disease.
Ticks carrying the Rocky Mountain spotted fever bacteria are found in North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. The classic symptoms are tiny red dots on the hands and feet. Antibiotics can successfully treat Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Preventative measures are enough to avoid most annoying insect bites. Understanding how to manage bites, being aware of allergic reactions, and recognizing tick bites will resolve most bug problems.