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Treating Common Summer Bug Bites

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Reviewed by: Amy Hinshaw

Bugs are a necessary nuisance — while they may bite and sting us, they also contribute to a thriving ecosystem. When we respect each other’s space, we can live amicably with such creatures. However, we can experience irritating and sometimes painful bug bites when we’re forced into close quarters. 

Keep reading for some tips on treating and preventing summer bug bites!

Common Bug Bites

Here are some common bug bites and specific concerns related to them. 

Bees and Wasps

Although bees and wasps rarely bite, their stings immediately bring sharp, intense pain that subsides into a dull ache. For most people, this aching usually lasts no longer than one day. For those who are allergic to bees or wasps, a sting can cause anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock and become a life-threatening medical emergency. If you have a bee or wasp allergy, it’s vital to seek immediate medical care if one of these insects has stung you. 

Bee and wasp stings usually appear as a raised red bump at the sting site. If you have an allergy, the swelling may be more severe. Signs that you’re experiencing a severe anaphylactic reaction to a wasp or bee sting include:

  • Anxiety or restlessness.
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing.
  • Dizziness.
  • Hives that spread across your body.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • A sharp drop in blood pressure.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, throat or tongue.
  • Trouble swallowing.

Mosquitoes

Mosquito bites leave round, puffy pink or red bumps on your skin’s surface that can last a few days. They cause a slight stinging sensation that gets progressively itchier.

 While allergies to mosquito bites are rare, it’s important to be aware of mosquito-borne illnesses. Depending on your location, mosquitoes can transmit serious diseases, including:

  • Dengue fever
  • Malaria
  • West Nile virus
  • Yellow fever

Mosquito-caused illnesses are rare but significant. Be careful to take precautions around mosquitos to reduce your risk of contracting a severe disease. 

Spiders

Spider bites typically appear as red, inflamed and sometimes painful or itchy bumps on your skin. The bite itself likely won’t feel more than a pinprick, as most spiders’ fangs are too short to penetrate the skin. In the Pacific Northwest, the black widow and yellow sac spiders are the only spiders with long enough fangs and potent enough venom to hurt humans. 

If you notice the signs of a black widow bite, it’s vital to seek urgent medical care. Some symptoms of a black widow spider bite include:

  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Spreading redness, burning pain and swelling around the bite.
  • Nausea, sweating, tremors and vomiting.

Ticks

Ticks are notoriously sneaky, even though they often hang from the bite location. It’s common to overlook a tick bite until a significant amount of time has passed. 

Tick bites produce small red bumps that don’t always cause immediate irritation. You can find tick bites by feeling along your body for small, tough and unusual bumps. Redness and itchiness usually set in once the tick drops off. 

The main concern with tick bites is their ability to transmit Lyme disease, a chronic illness that weakens your immune system. Check your clothing and skin for ticks whenever you or your children venture into wooded or grassy areas. If you or your child experiences aches, chills, fever or pains after finding a tick, seek prompt medical attention. 

Bug Bite Treatment

Unless an allergic reaction or illness occurs, you can typically perform treatment for bug bites at home. However, if your bug bite requires medical care, the treatment options vary according to:

  • The symptoms you’re experiencing. 
  • The type of bug bite.
  • Whether you’re experiencing an allergic reaction or insect-borne illness. 

If a bee sting or bug bite is particularly itchy, your doctor may prescribe hydrocortisone cream. If you’ve contracted an illness from a bug bite, treatment options vary even more depending on the type of illness you’re dealing with. 

Home Remedies for Bug Bites That Itch and Swell

Itching and swelling are two of the most common bug bite symptoms. You can treat this at home by:

  • Applying an ice pack to reduce the swelling.
  • Cleaning the affected area with soap and warm water.
  • Placing a paste mixture of baking soda and water on the bite. 
  • Using an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or pain relief medication. 

If you’re treating a bee or wasp sting, remove the stinger with a gentle scraping motion rather than squeezing it. If the tick is still attached when you’re treating a tick bite, use tweezers to remove it as soon as you find it. 

person-scratching-bug-bite

How to Heal Bug Bites Quickly

Your skin needs to breathe after bug bites to prevent infection, so it’s important to keep the area uncovered if you want the bites to heal quickly. Once the bite dries out, you can feel free to conceal it with a bandage or makeup. 

Topical steroid creams also help speed up healing times for bug bites. Mild steroid creams are available over the counter, while stronger steroid creams require a doctor’s prescription. 

How to Keep From Getting Bug Bites

In the summertime, bug bites can seem inevitable. However, taking precautions can help you avoid significant health issues and irritating persistent itchiness. With that in mind, here are some tips for preventing bug bites:

  • Apply insect repellent.
  • Check travel warnings with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Use bed nets when sleeping outside or camping.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to some common bug bite questions below.

How Long Does a Bug Bite Last?

The length of time a bug bite lasts can vary according to the type of bug that bit you and your body’s reaction to it. Different symptoms will also last for varying amounts of time:

  • Itchiness usually lasts for a few days.
  • The skin usually stays red for about 3 days.
  • Swelling may last as long as 7 days.

If you’re experiencing bug bites symptoms longer than this, seek medical attention. 

Can You Go to Urgent Care for Bug Bites?

You can certainly visit an urgent care clinic for bug bites! While you can easily treat some bug bites at home, others warrant medical attention. You should see a doctor immediately if you experience difficulty breathing, dizziness or nausea. In such cases, an urgent care clinic is an excellent option for receiving the proper care. 

Find Bug Bite Relief With BestMed

For the quickest and best bug bite relief, choose BestMed Urgent Care! We have clinics throughout Montana, Oregon and Washington, committed to providing compassionate and expert health care services. Find a BestMed Center near you today. 

massaging lotion onto a bug bite