In the summer, I see many patients with a variety of bug bites, everything from bee stings to mosquito and tick bites. Here are some helpful tips to treating these at home so you can soothe you or your loved one’s pain right away.
- If you have children, be sure to check your child’s skin at the end of the day to identify new bites or ticks. Ticks should be removed right away by using tweezers to grasp near the head and pull straight out.
- To relieve itching, use a thin layer of one percent hydrocortisone cream 2-3 times a day. This can be found over the counter. You can also use a dose of Zyrtec or Benadryl if your child breaks out in hives or has severe itching.
- For stings you’ll want to use the edge of a credit card to scrape the stinger out, however if it’s embedded in the skin, it will fall out naturally with skin shedding. You can also make a paste to apply for about twenty minutes to help relieve the pain and reduce the effects of the venom. You can use baking soda or an aluminum based deodorant for this.
- To help relieve pain from bites and stings you can apply a cold pack. It is helpful to first apply a cloth to protect the skin and lay the cold pack over the cloth to prevent a freezer burn. You can also use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for more intense pain.
Here are some tips to avoid those bites from happening so you can enjoy your summer fun:
- Use unscented skin products
- Empty any areas of standing water
- Dress in lightweight long sleeve shirts, pants, closed shoes and socks
- Avoid being outside at dusk
- Use an insect repellent, chemical or natural
Picking the Right Repellent
Be sure to read the label of insect repellents, only applying to exposed skin avoiding the eyes and mouth as well as clothing. Chemical repellents should not be used on babies under two months of age. 10-30% DEET can be used for those over two months old, however the effectiveness is the same. The length of action varies from two to five hours respectively. Be sure to wash off with soap and water after you come back inside.
Concentrations higher than thirty percent should not be used. There are alternatives to DEET containing repellents. Picaridin or essential oils such as eucalyptus, cedar or citronella can be used. Picaridin can last about 3-8 hours, essential oils usually less than two hours. The same precautions should be used with these repellents.