If you’ve been enjoying the warm weather lately, you may have noticed more insects like bees, mosquitos and ticks. These are all common at this time of year and throughout the summer. In fact, there could be more bugs than normal this year because of the mild winter and early warm weather our area experienced. Here’s what you need to know about common insect bites and tips to prevent them.
The vast majority of mosquito bites are harmless, clear up within a few days and can be soothed with an anti-itch cream. However, certain mosquito species may carry diseases that are more serious.
“In this region, the most common mosquito-borne illness to watch out for are the West Nile virus and chikungunya,” said Dr. Richard Samuel, medical director for Adventist HealthCare’s Urgent Care centers.
These types of diseases are rare, but Dr. Samuel says to watch for the following symptoms and to seek medical care if you experience:
- Low-grade fever
- Sore throat
- Joint pains
Bees and Wasp Stings
Bee and wasp venom cause redness, pain and swelling at the sting site. Their stings feel similar to receiving a shot at the doctor’s office and usually clear up in a day or two. Most stings simply require washing the area with soap and water and applying cool compresses or ice on the wound.
“There are some children and adults that can experience a severe allergic reaction to bee or wasp stings, such as rash, nausea, vomiting, shock and difficulty breathing,” says Dr. Samuel. If this happens, seek medical attention right away at an emergency room.”
Ticks are often found in grassy, forested areas during the warm weather months. Generally, ticks will attach in warm, moist areas of the body. Dr. Samuel says that it’s important to check yourself and others for ticks if you’ve been gardening, camping, hiking and playing outdoors. There are different types of ticks and some can carry Lyme disease.
“Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness in Maryland,” says Dr. Samuel. “It is very important to remove the tick to avoid contracting the disease.” To remove a tick, pull it straight out of the skin with tweezers and thoroughly clean the area with soap and water. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor or visit urgent care center.
- Rash with red rings
- Joint pains
- Flu-like symptoms
Most spider bites produce a painful red spot or bump with a central puncture area on the wound. Most bites are minor and simply require a thorough soap and water cleansing, a cool compress and over-the-counter medications. Some bites can cause a more severe reaction. Dr. Samuel advises if the bite becomes more painful and red, or a deep blue or purple area develops around the bite you should call your doctor or visit an urgent care center.
To prevent common insect bites and stings this season, Dr. Samuel has the following tips:
- Use insect repellent when in areas where you may encounter insects.
- Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt if in tall grass or forested areas.
- Avoid loose clothing and tuck long pants inside boots.
- Avoid wearing sandals or going barefoot.