Summer is a universally loved season: vacations are scheduled, pools are open, grills are fired up, and families are spending time outdoors. But with summer fun comes potential dangers: sunburn, dehydration, and just about anything involving fireworks. And in a class all their own, there are bug bites.
Knowing the difference between a pesky irritation and a dangerous sting can be tricky. In some cases, you may experience an allergic reaction that sends you not on a pharmacy run but headed for medical care. Knowing when and how to treat insect bites can help to keep your breaks relaxing and pain-free.
Are you dealing with a spider bite or a mosquito bite? Each carries different risks, and knowing what you are up against may help you understand what to look out for. Knowing what kind of bug bite you’re suffering from can also help you to treat the resulting irritation.
Most bug bites can be treated simply and at home. Steps you can take to minimize swelling and discomfort include:
- Remove the stinger if you can see it, using a pair of sterile tweezers
- Wash the site with soap and water
- Apply ice or a cold compress to the affected area (10 minutes on and 10 minutes off for a total of 60 minutes is recommended)
- Take an oral or topical antihistamine (you may want to check with your healthcare provider before doing so).
When to Seek Medical Care
Serious complications can arise, including an allergic reaction. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Dizziness or fainting
- Fever or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
- Tightness in the chest or throat
- Trouble breathing
- Muscle spasms
- Irregular heartbeat
- Hives or another widespread skin reaction
If you know you are prone to an allergic response to bug bites, you will want to consider carrying an emergency epinephrine kit. Doing so can be a life-saving measure, especially if you are planning a hike or other activity that could delay seeking immediate care.
Bug Bite Prevention
Prevention is the easiest way to avoid the headache of a bad bug bite reaction in the first place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following steps to prevent bug bites:
- Dressing to minimize skin exposure (long sleeves, long pants, and socks, when possible)
- Using an EPA-registered insect repellant
- Treating clothing and gear with Permethrin, an insecticide
- Staying in screened-in or mosquito-netted accommodations
Talk to Us
Exposure to biting and stinging insects is inevitable but knowing how to respond can keep your family members calm and safe. Complete Health Partner providers in Downtown Nashville are trained to respond to bug bites and potentially associated infections. If you need medical attention, proceed to your nearest emergency room. To book an urgent care appointment with a Complete Health provider, call (629) 203-7858 or visit completehealthpartners.com to schedule your care.