Vacations, barbecues, camps and enjoying time outdoors – it’s what summer is all about. However, as the warmer weather brings us outside, it also brings bugs. And unfortunately, a lot of bugs are more than just simple pests to humans, as they can sting, bite and even spread illness. Learning to identify a bug bite or sting by how it looks and feels will help you know whether to seek medical attention immediately or treat the issue at home.
Mosquito bites are probably the most common and frequent bite people receive during the summer months. A typical mosquito bites is pinkish red, round and very itchy. Although mosquitos can spread the West Nile virus, it is extremely rare (less than 1% carry the disease). Symptoms of West Nile infection include headaches, fever, swollen glands and skin rash. A stiff neck, migraine, high fever, disorientation and convulsions can signify a more severe infection. Seek medical help immediately if you suspect you may be infected with West Nile.
Bee stings are a sharp pain that can often last for up to five minutes. After the initial pain fades, a red bump may appear that is sore to the touch for several days. The area stung will most likely itch and swell as well. A great home remedy for a bee sting is to mix baking soda with a little bit of water and apply to the bite site.
Ant bites and stings are typically painful and result in a red skin bump that itches for up to a week. Some types of ants, like fire ants, are venomous. They attack in swarms, racing up vertical surfaces (such as your leg) when their nests are disturbed. Each fire ant can sting several times.
They create an immediate, sharp pain and burning sensation. Fire ant bites/stings create swollen red spots that develop a blister on the top and often last for up to a week. Applying ice and taking an antihistamine can help reduce the pain.
Tick bites are usually harmless and may produce no symptoms. However, some ticks can cause allergic reactions and certain ticks can pass diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks are blood-sucking bugs and their bites are usually easy to identify because the tick remains attached in the skin. To remove an embedded tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull the tick out slowly with even pressure and then clean the bite area.
After removing a tick, be cognizant that tick-borne diseases can cause a variety of symptoms and usually develop within the first few weeks after the bite. Potential symptoms of tick-borne diseases include: fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint aches, and irregular heart rhythms. Seek medical attention immediately if these symptoms appear.