Mosquito bites may be the most common type of bug bite, but they certainly aren’t the only bug bite that can cause itching and discomfort.
In fact, some bug bites can be downright painful… even dangerous.
Most bug bites aren’t life-threatening, but they sure can ruin your day. That’s why it’s helpful to know how to avoid the most common kinds of bug bites…know how to identify the bite…and know how to find the proper remedy when you do get bitten.
Avoiding Bug Bites
The best way to avoid bug bits is to be prepared.
In your own backyard, you probably know the most common bugs that will bite. If mosquitoes are a problem, put on a natural repellent before going out in the early morning or in the evening hours—I like bug sprays that use lemon balm and eucalyptus. They’re more natural than sprays that contain DEET, and often just as effective.
Another novel way to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your area is to build a bat box. Bats eat up to 1200 mosquitoes an hour, making them the perfect natural, mosquito defense.
If there are fleas in your house, your best defense is a thorough cleaning—vacuum, have the carpets steam cleaned, and bathe and brush your pets.
If you live in an area with ticks, wear clothing that covers your skin when you venture into the woods. Check yourself over when you return so you can immediately remove any ticks.
If you’re going somewhere new—on a hike or a vacation—do a little research to find out what biting bugs are present and what you can do to prevent or minimize bites.
Do You Know The Difference From One Bite To The Next?
When a bug does bite you, the first step to finding relief is to identify the bite.
Mosquito bites are the easiest to identify because they are among the most familiar. They cause a hard, red lump that itches.
Flea bites usually occur in clusters of little bumps or spots. The most common areas to be bitten are the armpits, around the ankles, and in the bends of the elbows and knees. If you look closely, you can see the bite mark in the middle of each bump or spot.
Tick bites are the easiest to identify because the tick is usually still there. Ticks are small, black bugs that latch on when they bite. If the tick is gone, you can recognize the bite because it’s more painful than itchy.
Spider bites result in a raised bump that usually blisters within a day or two. Like tick bites, spider bites are usually painful rather than itchy.
Healthy Answers To Bug Bites!
If you have mosquito bites, there are several things you can try to relieve the itching. I’ve found that applying an ice pack to the bites for 15 to 20 minutes is very helpful. You can also dab a little honey, vinegar, baking soda paste (just mix a little baking soda with a little water), or Mentholatum® on the bite to relieve itching.
Flea bites are best relieved by soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salts and baking soda. Baking soda makes for an excellent itch reliever and the Epsom salts can help with healing the bites.
The first step in getting relief from tick bites is proper removal. To safely remove a tick, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and grasp it as close to your skin as you can. Pull it straight out without twisting. Once you’ve removed the tick, put it in a small jar with some rubbing alcohol—ticks can carry dangerous diseases and if you get sick, this may help your doctor identify the illness and treat it more effectively. Finally wash the bite with soap and water. An ice pack can help relieve any pain caused by the bite.
If you get a spider bite, wash the bite thoroughly with soap and water. Use a cool compress to relieve any pain or swelling that occurs.
When to Seek a Doctor’s Care
With the exception of fleas, each of these bites can pose greater risks to your health. Mosquitoes carry west Nile virus. Ticks carry Lyme disease and other diseases. Some spider bites like black widow and brown recluse bites can lead to complications. In all cases, an insect bite can become infected and require a doctor’s care.
If you have a bug bite, and it becomes red and inflamed (more so than the usual bug bite) or it begins to ooze a yellowish liquid, make an appointment with your doctor immediately. You may have an infection.
If after being bit by an insect or spider, you begin to feel achy, feverish, nauseous, fatigued, sensitive to light, or you develop swollen glands you should seek a doctor’s care. These symptoms can be the sign of a serious disease.
Serious diseases and serious reactions to bug bites are rare, but it’s better to be on the safe side. Remember, when it comes to bug bites, prevention is always best. Know what bugs are in your area and take steps to prevent bites.
Photo Credit: Greg Bloom