3 Tips For Treating Bug Bites: Staying Healthy Outdoors, Especially In The Spring

  • Dermatology
  • dermatology - Skin Care
  • August 18, 2022

Thinking about heading outdoors this spring? Look out for bug bites. If insect bites cause an unwanted reaction, these 3 tips can help.

Does Springtime Mean Bug Bites?

Who doesn’t love springtime? New beginnings, new growth, and lots of fun outdoors. Spring also brings out insects of all kinds. While these bugs help flowers grow, the chances of bug bites increase significantly. Some bug bites are minor annoyances, and others can cause severe reactions, leading to an emergency room visit. Enjoying the great outdoors safely means protecting the skin from bugs and treating any bites that occur.

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What happens when you get a bug bite?

Insects bite humans who emit strong scents like sweat, heat, perfume, and even stress. When insects bite, saliva and other fluids are transferred to the skin. The body’s immune system responds, causing redness, itching, and swelling. The swelling varies from person to person and sometimes looks like hives, which is why a dermatologist uses the term papular urticaria. For most people, the effects of bug bites are minor and subside in a couple of days. However, bites cause severe swelling and pain for others, indicating an allergic reaction. In both cases, itching can make things worse.

1. Clean up

Cleaning the area can prevent more fluids or venom from affecting the skin. For a wasp or bee bite, look for and gently remove any stingers. Start by washing hands with soap, then the bite with warm, soapy water. If water is not readily available, apply some rubbing alcohol, which cleans the skin and provides a cooling effect.

2. Soothe itching ASAP

Itching breaks the skin more, increasing inflammation and the chance for infection. Avoid itching by soothing bites with a cold compress or an ice pack. Reapply in 10-minute intervals. When available, use an anti-itch lotion or cream.

3. Get an antihistamine

The body releases histamine to treat the bites, but an overproduction causes a severe reaction. Allergy-like symptoms are triggered, with itching and inflammation spreading around the bite. Taking a doctor-recommended oral antihistamine can reduce the immune response. Topical antihistamines are also available. Make sure to take these along on any outdoor trip, just in case.

Seek help if needed

These 3 tips should be enough to get the bug bite under control. For any pain, try over-the-counter pain medication. Within a few days, the swelling and discomfort should subside. If symptoms persist, or are accompanied by fever and body aches, see a doctor or dermatologist immediately. These symptoms are usually a sign of a severe allergy or infection.

Enjoy spring safely

Spring is a great time to head outdoors with friends and family. The threat of bug bites will be there, so start with protection first. Wear proper clothing that covers arms and legs. If clothing without sleeves is in order, use an insect repellant. Should an insect bite happen, use these helpful tips to keep the symptoms under control.

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