Treating Bug Bites This Summer

It is a glorious evening as the sun is starting to set.  Beautiful shades or orange, pink and blue cross the sky.   People are gathered having dinner outdoors and enjoying the summer leisure.  Then it happens….that small buzzing by your ear.  Then it’s a bite on the leg.  The bugs have come to crash the party. 

Eventually this lovely evening becomes spotted skin and incessant itching and scratching.  

The most common bites we see here at Amaze are mosquitos, bees, and ants.  However, there are biting flies, spiders, and, depending on where you live, chiggers.  What is the right way to care for bites?  What should you avoid?  Are there over the counter or home remedies worth trying?

The best care for bites initially is anything that stops itching or pain.  Good options for mosquito and itchy bites are cortisone cream over the counter or and anti-itch cream with lidocaine in it.  

Natural things like a paste made from water and baking soda or witch hazel are also good options. The big issue is touching and scratching that can lead to infections. 

For ants, spiders and biting flies, resist the urge to pop the bubble on top of bites.  Let them dry up and open on their own (but brown recluse bites need attention asap).

Ibuprofen or Tylenol for pain, aloe vera gel and witch hazel are great for stopping the sting or pain of these bites.  If they are red and painful, triple antibiotic ointment with lidocaine or a pain reliever in it is good. 

Additionally, you can try topical antiseptic sprays that have pain relief in them.  Wasps and bees often sting, and the pain is immediate.  For bee stings make sure there is no stinger left. Place a piece of tape over the sting and lift up.  The stinger will be a tiny black hair like structure. There is not always a stinger so if you don’t see one do not dig for it.

These bites tend to sting and then itch so start with antiseptic sprays or ointments with a pain relief agent in them.  After the sting is gone and itching starts, you can go to cortisone to keep swelling and itch away.  Again, do not scratch these bites.

Last but not least, the dreaded chiggers of humid climates. These are little mites that get under the skin and burrow. They itch like crazy and are hard to get rid of.  Cortisone for the itch is great but honestly the best treatment I have ever found (learned from living in Texas many years) is liquid bandage.  Paint it over the entire bite daily for a couple of days and the bite goes away. 

I have seen clear nail polish used but never had as good of success with that.  Additionally, there is a medication you can buy over the counter called Chigg-rid that I have not tried but might be worth it.

Now you can initially treat the bites, but here’s what to look for if you suspect it’s a bigger deal than just a bite. 

The first thing is if someone gets a bite and then starts feeling an itchy tongue, throat, or feels short of breath. That is an emergency, and you should call 911. This is a great place to mention that once you have a severe reaction to a bite, it is recommended to carry an Epi-Pen with you!   

Another side effect is what we call an “over reaction” to the bite.  This is when someone gets a bite, and it swells and continues to swell over an hour or two.  This will need medical attention but is not an emergency if there is no itchy mouth/throat, or shortness of breath. 

Lastly, if the bite gets a red ring around it or gets swollen, hot and red. This could be infection and should be cared for by a healthcare provider.  

So now you are ready for summer and the bugs that come with it.  Use your bug spray, citronella candles, etc. to avoid them but if you do get a bite (and it is not the emergency mentioned above) call Amaze and get it treated from the comfort of wherever you happen to be!  Don’t let these insects destroy your summer fun!