Bug bites are usually annoying but harmless. Even so, there are times when bites or stings result in a trip to the doctor for treatment, especially if you happen to be allergic or if home remedies aren’t helping. Warm weather, in particular, is a time when you’re more likely to be encounter insects that may bite.
Know Which Bugs Bite
In the northern parts of the United States and Canada, the primary biting bugs are fleas and ticks, bedbugs, certain flies, midges and gnats, and mosquitoes. Add sand flies to this list if you live in one of the Southern states in the U.S. While spiders aren’t technically insects, some of them do bite. Black widow and brown recluse spiders, for instance, have bites that can produce potentially life-threatening symptoms.
Avoid Powerful, Sweet Scents
Some insects are naturally attracted to the sweet scents of personal grooming and skincare products. So, avoid tempting insects with sweet scents and go with scent-free soaps, fragrance-free skincare products, and mild-scented perfumes. This advice also applies to cologne for men, hairspray, shampoos and conditioners, and heavily-scented body spray.
Stay Away from Stagnate Water and Dense Woods
Water in old tires is a perfect example of what’s considered stagnate water. Mosquitoes, in particular, tend to gather and breed in areas where there’s pooled water. Heavily wooded areas also tend to be a favorite spot for bugs that bite. The most potentially dangerous ones are deer ticks, which can give you Lyme disease if they bite you.
Opt for Not-So-Bright Clothing
Some biting or stinging insects, like bees and hornets, are attracting to bright clothing. This is likely because they are instinctively programmed to seek out bright things because that may be a source of food.
As long as we’re on the topic of clothing, dress appropriately if you camp or explore in wooded or grassy areas. This typically means:
- Long-sleeve shirts
- High-rising socks
- Durable outdoor boots
Use Spray-On Repellents
There are plenty of over-the-counter bug sprays that can provide an added layer of protection when you are outside in the summer. If you’ll be outdoors for long periods of time, look for products with high DEET (diethyltoluamide) concentrations. But avoid using DEET sprays on very young children, and keep these sprays away from your mouth and eyes.
If you are bitten over the summer, over-the-counter NSAIDs like Advil (ibuprofen) can help ease swelling. Tylenol (acetaminophen) can also ease the pain from a sting or bite, and OTC anti-inch creams like hydrocortisone may provide relief from itchy bites. But if you notice signs of an infection or experience a serious reaction, seek immediate medical assistance.