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4 handy tips for preventing and treating bug bites

When you and your family enjoy the summer months, you probably remember to pay heed to the big safety concerns. Drinking plenty of water during a hike and wearing a helmet during bike rides are effective ways to prevent major injuries. But do you pay attention to bug bites? These might seem like minor annoyances, but as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained, many bug bites, especially those from mosquitoes, can lead to serious, life-threatening infections like Zika and Chikungunya. If you want to make sure you and your family are protected from even the smallest dangers, be sure to follow these four handy tips for bug bites:

"Some bug bites can lead to serious infections."

1. Use insect repellent
This is the most obvious and effective way to repel bugs. However, as the CDC mentioned, there are several considerations to keep in mind when buying and applying repellent. No matter what brand you buy, make sure it has at least 20 percent DEET, or an oil called diethyltoluamide that irritates most bug species. Only repellent​s that are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency are monitored, so use this list of EPA-registered repell​ents. When applying the repellent, make sure the sunscreen goes on first and is completely dried. Most children, meanwhile, will need a spray with 10 percent DEET or less. 

2. Know your bugs
As Everyday Health pointed out, each bug bite has a different effect and treatment, and thus it's important to recognize the species in case you're ever bit. Mosquito bites generally appear as red, rounded bumps. Spider bites will leave red, slightly shimmery marks, similar to a small burn. The bite of a brown recluse spider might look like a small, harmless mark, but it will eventually turn into a blister or bruise before becoming totally black and crusty. Tick bites, meanwhile, will result in a rash in the shape of a bull's eye. Flea bites are often compared to pimples, albeit in rows or groupings. Most bites are accompanied by itching and swelling, and the more severe ones can be quite painful.

3. Watch what you wear
While repellent is a great way to prevent bug bites, Reader's Digest explained that there are several other easy steps you can take. For one, avoid any perfumes and other beauty products, as these will only attract most bugs. The same goes for certain patterns, like anything flowery, sparkly or colorful. And speaking of clothing, simply wearing long sleeves can greatly reduce your chances of a bug bite. Shoes are also important, and certain species of bees or yellow jackets live directly on the ground. Finally, if you're using any open cups, always be watchful of random bugs that might have fallen in. 

4. Get help as needed
Speaking with Angie's List, Charlotte-based physician Dr. Laura Schrader said people need to know when to seek out treatment for a bug bite. While she said that swelling is normal, face swelling and trouble breathing are indicative of a serious allergic reaction.

For any and all bug bite treatment, head to your nearest CareWell Urgent Care Center. With locations across the East Coast, CareWell's highly trained physicians can handle almost any bug bite, from fire ants and bees to wasps and yellow jackets.

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