Summer is in full swing, which means warm weather, swimming and cookouts. But, with all the fun in the sun, comes mosquito and bug bites.
Being eaten alive by mosquitoes, can be one of the most frustrating parts of the season. However, there are solutions to prevent getting bitten and to deal with bites, if you have become a victim of mosquitos.
Read on to learn more about the prevention and treatment of bug bites.
MOSQUITOES AND THEIR BITES
Mosquitoes are tiny fly-like bugs; their life cycle is short. Males live for about a week, and females live for a few months. Despite their size and short lifespan, they always seem to wreak havoc on their victims. Their ability to leave itchy bites, or carry disease, is a serious problem.
A mosquito’s diet consists of water and plant nectar. Females also need blood to aid in reproduction; unfortunately, humans and other animals are the source of this dietary requirement. These bites leave itchy welts known as bug or mosquito bites.
When a mosquito bites you, they are injecting their saliva into your body while simultaneously draining a small amount of blood. Most humans are allergic to the proteins found in mosquito saliva, so your body jumps into action creating the red, itchy welts. Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide and other chemicals we produce through our sweat. The more sweat you produce, the more likely you are to be bitten.
In some people, mainly children, a larger reaction may take place involving hives, larger patches of redness and swelling, head and body aches, fever and swollen lymph nodes.
COST EFFECTIVE METHODS TO PREVENT MOSQUITO BITES
You will never be able to completely prevent mosquito bites, but you are able to greatly reduce the possibility of being bitten. Here are some potential methods of prevention:
- Avoid stagnant water: Avoid or replace, once a week, any stagnant water that is around your house including birdbaths, kiddie pools and watering cans.
- Cut the grass: Mosquitoes love tall grass and vegetation, so keep your lawn well trimmed. This can lower the mosquito population around your home.
- Wear longer clothing: Because mosquitoes love tall grassy areas, make sure to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when you know you are going to be in vegetation.
INVEST IN BUG SPRAY
There are many ways to prevent mosquito bites, but none is more effective than investing in bug repellent. It can be hard to decide on the best bug repellant, with the variety of selection that is available. Here are few things to look for when shopping for bug spray:
- Be aware of natural repellents: These types of bug spray usually contain essential plant oils like cedar, citronella, lemongrass and rosemary. The only essential oils proven to repel all types of mosquitoes are made from lemon and eucalyptus. However, this does not necessarily mean it is better for you than other repellents.
- Look for high levels of picaridin (also known as icaridin): Picaridin is a type of bug spray chemical. The Center for Disease control (CDC) promotes the use of picaridin, because it is non-irritating to the skin. The repellant must contain at least 20 percent picaridin, in order to be truly effective at warding off all mosquitoes.
- Don’t use combination insect repellent and sunscreen: It might seem like a good idea, but using these types of insect repellents can be bad for your skin. Sunscreen must be applied every two hours to provide protection. When combined with a bug spray, you could overexpose yourself to chemicals. Large doses of insect repellent chemicals can be harmful to your skin.
- Look for EPA registration: There are so many insect repellents on the market right now, and a lot of them are not effective. You can separate those that work from those that don’t by looking for the EPA registration number, or black and yellow repellency awareness graphic (not on all EPA registered repellents). This means they have been tested for safety and effectiveness.
TREATMENTS FOR BUG BITES
Unfortunately, you cannot protect yourself all the time. Mosquito bites are without a doubt an annoyance. Here are some treatments to help lessen the effects:
- Wash the bite with soap and hot water.
- Use over the counter medication including pain relievers, antihistamines or anti-itch creams.
- Apply an ice pack to reduce itch.
- Try and refrain from scratching as much as possible.
Although it is rare, you may have a severe reaction to a mosquito bite. If you begin to experience headaches, body aches, fever or any other symptoms listed above, contact your doctor.
DERMATOLOGY CENTER FOR SKIN HEALTH
Mosquito bites are frustrating and can be a damper on summer fun. We hope that with these tips and tricks for prevention and treatment, you can avoid the annoyance of bug bites.
If your mosquito bite symptoms worsen, or you experience a severe reaction to insect repellent, please call and make an appointment as soon as possible: 304-598-3888
To read about other types of skin rashes, download our guide below: