Bug Bite Basics
A bug bite is exactly what the name implies: a bite from an insect!
Bug bites are typically swollen and red around the area of the bite. Sometimes, a rash or hives may develop, and many are itchy to the touch.
The itchy bumps that come from bug bites are actually a localized allergic reaction to the bite. Some people are more allergic to a bite than others, which is why some people get lots of bites and others get fewer. In reality, everyone is likely to be bit the same amount, but some people have a stronger reaction.
Around Colorado, the most common bugs you will encounter are mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, ants, mites, gnats, bees, wasps, and hornets.
How to Prevent
The best way to prevent bug bites is preparation:
- Know where and when to expect bugs
Expect bugs when you are camping, hiking, or working with animals. During your hikes, try to walk in the center of trails, avoiding tall grass and brush. Many bugs, like mosquitos, are more active at dawn and dusk, so try to stay inside during those times.
- Use an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) registered insect repellant.
Remember to always apply insect repellant after sunscreen.
- Be smart about your clothing.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. For even more protection, tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants.
- Shower soon after being outdoors.
Showering within two hours of being outdoors can reduce your risk of getting tick-borne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
How to Treat a Bug Bite
Even after the best preparation, some people may still walk away with a few bug bites. The good news is that most bug bites are harmless and will resolve on their own.
You can alleviate the itchy symptoms of a bug bite with Hydrocortisone or other topical anti-itch creams. Oral antihistamines, such as Benadryl, are also helpful. But, be aware, these medications can cause drowsiness. Many providers also recommend a cold pack to reduce swelling.
When it comes to tick bites, use sharp tweezers, and pull the tick upward with even pressure and steady hands. Avoid twisting or jerking motions to pull the entirety of the tick out of the skin.
When to See a Doctor
Most bug bites will go away on their own after 5-7 days. However, it is recommended that you see your doctor if you experience any signs of infection, including:
- Spreading dark red color
Bradley Stokes, DO is a provider at Peak Vista’s Health Center at Printers Parkway, 340. Dr. Stokes believes that patients are most successful in their care when they understand it, and he strives to have all of his patients become an advocate in their own health care. During his spare time, Dr. Stokes enjoys spending time with his family, seeing movies, and going to shows.