How to get relief from common bug bites
Though the warm temperatures and summer rain are great for your lawn, garden and mental health, it can also hatch a new generation of mosquitos and ticks who need to eat blood to survive. Even if you take preventive measures, the best-laid plans can result in a bug bite that usually needs at least minimal treatment.
It is recommended to first disinfect the area with soap and water. Then apply ice as needed for 10 minutes to help relieve some of the itching and swelling symptoms. Use over-the-counter topical antihistamine creams, topical steroids and anti-itch creams to relieve itching by following the product instructions or even trying a few effective home remedies.
“Try to avoid scratching mosquito bites to avoid creating any infection,” says Dr. Jūratė Kunickaite, a family medicine physician at Advocate Outpatient Center in Aurora, Ill. “Seek medical advice if you begin developing any signs of redness, warmth, pain or discomfort near the mosquito bite.”
Dr. Kunickaite adds that if you experience any symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, hives, headaches, worsening areas of redness or swelling, fatigue, red eyes, or painful joints, especially in the hands or feet, to seek medical advice. The Zika virus and West Nile Virus can cause serious or life-threatening symptoms. So when in doubt, get it checked out.
If you happen to get a tick bite, it is important to remember in most cases a tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before it can transfer the most common Lyme disease-causing bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) to humans. Always remove the tick with tweezers and firmly grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible with an upward, steady motion. Next, be sure to clean the area with a disinfectant such as rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
“If you do not feel comfortable removing the tick, then you can always seek medical attention,” says Dr. Michael Ross, a family medicine physician at Advocate Outpatient Center in Batavia, Ill. “Health care professionals can determine if any antibiotic prophylaxis or treatment is needed based upon your circumstances.”
Dr. Ross cautions to continue monitoring the tick bite within the next thirty days for any signs of a tickborne illness which includes fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, swelling, fever or a rash. If you experience any new symptoms, contact your health care professional immediately.
Though best to avoid mosquito and tick bites, when it does happen, know that most can be taken care of on your own with common supplies. If it gets worse, your primary care provider can assist with the next treatment steps.
About the Author
Jennifer Benson, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has 10+ years of community development and communication experience for non-profits and has a BA in Architecture from Judson University in Elgin, IL. Outside of work, you can find her planning the next adventure near water or rocks, re-organizing spaces, working on her Master’s in Public Health, caring for her senior citizen cat, keeping to healthy moving and eating disciplines and growing green things wherever she can find room.