How to Avoid Summer Bug Bites


How to Avoid Summer Bug Bites

Andy Wong

Written by Andy Wong

Andy Wong

Andy Wong

Andy is the Chief Marketing Officer at PlushCare. He's passionate about advancing healthcare solutions and improving access to care via health technology.

August 23, 2017 / Read Time 2 minutes

Spring is quickly becoming summer! And it's time for barbeques, camping, and bug bites! Here are some tips on how to avoid making foes with mosquitos, ticks, and bees this summer and what to do if you aren't successful.

Mosquitos: Attracted to light, heat, and carbon dioxide, they are hard to avoid during the summertime. Not only do they leave an itchy bite, but they can also spread diseases like malaria, West Nile, and Zika. How to avoid being bitten:

  • Long-sleeved shirts and pants are the best protection.

  • Permethrine-treated clothing may be worth the investment if going somewhere just laden with mosquitos, like Arctic Alaska.

  • The CDC recommends using repellent on exposed skin, especially during the most mosquito-active times of day, dusk and dawn. Look for the following active ingredients when buying repellant: DEET, picaridin, OLE or PMD, or IR3535. Reapply every four hours or as needed. Most repellants are safe on children over 2 months. Do not inhale repellants or use them on open skin or near the eyes or mouth.

  • For itchy mosquito bites, apply a topical corticosteroid cream like hydrocortisone. An oral non-sedating antihistamine such as Zyrtec or Claritin can also be helpful.

  • Consult a doctor if you have extensive swelling around the eyes or mouth, and they may prescribe a short course of steroids.

  • Ticks: The most problematic aspect of a tick bite is the potential for Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever transmission.

How to avoid getting bitten:

  • Avoiding areas of high grass, or where grassy areas meet the woodlands, is the best way to prevent tick bites.

  • Permethrin-treated clothing (discussed above) is also effective in keeping off ticks, flies, and chiggers.

  • 20-30% DEET on exposed skin is recommended by the CDC.

  • Do a full-body check after coming inside from a region with ticks. This is recommended by the CDC. Remember to check children and pets! If you find a tick, it's important to remove it as soon as possible. The entire tick must be removed by grasping it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pulling it straight up. Clean your hands and the skin around the bite with soap and water.

  • Consult a doctor if You cannot entirely remove the tick. ? You develop a red rash around the bite in a target-like pattern, which could indicate Lyme disease. ? You develop fever, chills, or aches.

Bees: The buzzing sound of a bee often strikes fear into our hearts before we even see the buggers. How to avoid being stung:

  • Avoid walking barefoot where you see bees, as nests can be located near the ground.

  • Eliminate forager opportunities by keeping food covered, surfaces clean, and trash is thrown away, as these can attract bees.

  • If surrounded by many bees, walk away slowly, without causing excitement, cover your mouth and nose, and get indoors as soon as possible.

  • If stung, remove the stinger. Wash the area with soap and water, and avoid scratching. If itchy, apply a topical corticosteroid cream like hydrocortisone or take an oral antihistamine such as Zyrtec or Claritin. Take ibuprofen or Tylenol for pain.

  • Call 911 if: You are having difficulty breathing or start wheezing.

    • You start to swell, especially around the face, eyes, mouth, hands or feet. ? If you develop abdominal cramping, nausea, or vomiting. ? If you pass out. PlushCare doctors are always available to talk with you about any questions you have, including bug bite treatment and prevention. PlushCare's top physicians will diagnose, treat, and prescribe medication from your phone.

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