Buzz Off! Keeping Bugs Away - PIH Health

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Published on September 21, 2016

Buzz Off! Keeping Bugs Away

Bee stings

Bee stingsKeep bugs away with proper precautions that will protect you and your family from nasty bug bites, or even worse, an allergic reaction.

Who’s biting you?

If you enjoy the outdoors, you are prone to mosquitos, bees, wasp, ticks, and spider bites, but sometimes those pesky bugs can make their way indoors, invading your space and leaving you with nasty welts, itchy irritations or in rare cases, anaphylactic shock.

Allergic reactions to look out for:

  • A normal reaction to a bug bite or bee sting is tenderness, swelling, pain and redness around the site of the bite.
  • A large local reaction causes swelling that extends past the bite or sting. For example, a person bit or stung on the palm of the hand may have a swollen arm. Although overwhelming to see, this case is usually no more serious than a normal reaction.
  • Severe reactions may include trouble breathing, fainting or vomiting and should be treated right away, as these reactions may be life threatening.
  • Anaphylaxis (pronounced "ana-fi-LAX-is") is a severe and sometimes life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur very quickly, in some cases as fast as within a couple of seconds once exposed to the allergen,” said Richard Yung MD. Anaphylaxis can be triggered by a variety of allergies as you come in contact with certain foods, medications, and of course, bug bites.

What you can do to help avoid a bite or sting:

  • Avoid wearing bright colored clothing or wearing scented lotions, perfumes or even hair products as this attracts unwanted flying predators.
  • Look for bug repellents with DEET, an active ingredient that wards off mosquitos, bees, wasp, ticks and other insects from becoming attracted to your skin or sweat.
  • Consider wearing pants, a long sleeve shirt, closed toe shoes and a hat to maximize coverage and reduce skin exposure.

Treatments for allergies

“Although we can’t completely avoid bug bites or bee stings, there are ways to prepare for when it does happen,” said Dr. Yung “If you notice a stinger in your skin, remove the stinger quickly by scraping with your fingernail or a hard edge like a credit card to avoid receiving further venom that can produce if you were to squeeze the stinger out.”

Additionally, hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion can also be used for mild allergic reactions. Just dab with a cotton ball over the infected area and follow with a cold press if pain or swelling continues.

For severe reactions that have caused breathing to halt, call 911 immediately. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and epinephrine, commonly used in EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine injection) may be given to help reduce your body’s allergic response. “Overall, keep yourself safe, if you know you are highly allergic to bug bites or bee stings, avoid activities that puts you more at risk and always keep an EpiPen® readily available,” added Dr. Yung.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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