An insect bite is generally not a cause for concern, but you can never get too comfortable, especially because a lot of bugs carry microbes and substances that can make you very ill. Bee stings, for instance, can trigger an allergic reaction, mosquitoes cause Dengue fever and deer ticks are largely responsible for Lyme disease.

With summer peeking in, you and your family will be spending a lot of time outdoors. Make the most of the sunny season by arming yourself with some bug spray, anti-itch lotion, and handy knowledge on how to care for these seven most common insect bites.

Mosquito

The itch from a mosquito bite is caused by the immune reaction of the body to the insect’s saliva. The area swells and itches until the body has broken down the saliva. A mosquito bite is a reddish bump which is about half an inch or smaller. For many it subsides after a few minutes, but for others who are sensitive, the bite may darken in color and leave a mark.

A safe way to treat mosquito bites is to make from baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the area, and slap on a Band-aid to prevent scratching. Scratching could cause scars. You will also need to monitor yourself or your kid for fever, which is typically a first symptom of Dengue.  

Wasps, Hornets and Bees

These insects don’t exactly bite, they sting. Their sting is painful and causes a red bump, which usually has a black dot in the center. This dot is the stinger which gets left behind when the insect has stung, and it should be removed immediately with some tweezers. Hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean the affected area. Swelling is relieved by applying an ice pack and the baking soda paste.

After you’ve cleaned the stung area, monitor yourself or your child for any allergic reaction which would be life-threatening. Classic symptoms are hives (rashes), dizziness, but the ones to really look out for are swelling of the tongue and difficulty breathing and swallowing, as these suggest the closing of the wind pipe. Drive straight to the ER when this happens.

Spider

Spider bites aren’t typically fatal, with the exception of the brown recluse spider and the black widow spider. A spider bite which isn’t worrisome may be treated with the above-mentioned baking soda paste and some cold compress to relieve inflammation. However, any bite from the two venomous spiders mentioned will cause profuse sweating, headaches, vomiting, high blood pressure, and muscle pain or paralysis within a period of three to twelve hours, which means you will need to rush to the hospital upon noticing any of these untoward symptoms.

Tick

Ticks are external parasites which will embed themselves in the surface of your skin to feed on your blood. A feeding tick swells up and assumes a rounded shape. Their bites are itch-less and don’t hurt, but because they will continuously make a feast from your blood, you will need to use tweezers to pull them from your skin with consistently pulling pressure. They attach themselves really well, so you will need to pull as closely to your skin as possible. Use a flea and tick spray to ease the bug out. After you’ve pulled the tick, the area might bleed, but it isn’t a cause for concern.

Ticks live in grassy areas, but they might jump from animals like your pets to humans. Choose a tick treatment that that is free from chemicals like pyrethrins, permethrin, and other pesticides.

Fire Ants

The sting of these red ants causes a little red bump which swells and is very painful, and the toxins they inject may be dangerous to little kids. The area must be cleaned with warm water and soap, and a soothing anti-infective cream must be applied for pain. Watch out for signs of allergy such as extreme swelling and difficulty breathing, and of infection such as fever and discharge from the area.

Within a few hours to a couple of days, a blister will form from the stung area. It is absolutely crucial that you let the blister dry on its own, without breaking it as this may lead to scarring, or worse, infection.

Flea

This insect is similar to the tick – it depends on blood for survival and attaches itself to humans, dogs, cats and other animals several times a time to feed. Because these bugs are tiny, it can be difficult to see them. Plus, they are amazing jumpers, so the usual body parts bitten are feet and ankles. Once a member of the family is bitten by fleas, consider vacuuming all the floors, carpets, furniture regularly for several weeks.

When you are bitten by a flea, the bite becomes very itchy and red and you will be prone to scratching incessantly. During warmer months, a complication of a flea bite is flea allergy dermatitis, which is characterized by several bumps and all over the body.  You will need to consult a doctor for treatment, and everyone in the family may need one too.

Mites

Harvest mites, or chigger, are very common in the southern part of the US. The bites are characterized as tiny bumps which are very red, much like chickenpox and appear on the beltline or on the legs.
The affected area must be cleaned with hydrogen peroxide, and an anti-itch, anti-infective cream is used to soothe the bite.
Dust mites may cause an allergic reaction, especially in people and children with sensitive skin. This reaction is characterized by itchy skin, stuffy nose, sneezing and irritated eyes.  Dust mites live in pillows, mattresses, draperies, stuffed toys and other upholstered furniture.

The worst kind of mite problem is caused by the Scabies mites. These mites require a host, such as a human to survive, thus a condition known as scabies mite infestation. Unlike other mites, these mites burrow themselves under the skin and lay eggs. They create many burrows all over the body, causing many rashes and bumps with burrows. The itch is worse at night. A dermatologist’s intervention is needed when a scabies infestation occurs, and the entire family must be treated.

Skinny Mom Fact: People who are allergic to insect bites should carry a card, bracelet or necklace that lets other people know about their allergy. If the doctor has prescribed medication for you to be used in case of an allergic reaction, it is important that both you and your family know exactly how to use it.