Summer means enjoying the great outdoors. But with all great things there is a price to pay. In the case of summer that price is insect bites. These annoying little critters keep mother nature going smoothly, but can wreak havoc on our delicate bodies.
So who are the offenders?
Mosquitoes top the list and are looking for blood. Literally.
Ticks are also looking for blood but they take longer to latch on, so you usually have time to remove them before any damage is done.
The rest of the insect kingdom is not on the attack. Instead they only bother you when they feel you are threatening them in some way. If you can avoid them (or their hive, nest, etc) then you won't have a problem. The list here includes bees, wasps, and spiders. Once a bee stings you they die. Unfortunately the other two can continue to sting/bite you over and over again.
What are the dangers of an insect bite?
Usually a bite is not that dangerous. It may be uncomfortable and cause itching, redness, or swelling. If that occurs you can wash the area with soap and water, put ice on it, avoid scratching, and use over-the-counter remedies such as Benadryl or calamine lotion to stop the itching.
However, there are times when an insect bite can be quite dangerous:
Allergic reactions may occur that cause hives, blisters, infection, shortness of breath, unconsciousness, or even death. The most common offender for an allergic reaction is a bee sting. If you are having a severe reaction then you need to get to the hospital immediately. Force yourself to cough continuously en route to keep your airways open. Once you know that you are at risk, your doctor can prescribe an Epi-pen that you can carry with you to use in an emergency.
Spread of disease is another danger. The mosquito can carry malaria, encephalitis, and the West Nile virus. All are extremely dangerous but unlikely in the United States. The tick can carry Lyme disease. This one is more likely and often shows up first as a red, bulls eye mark on your skin. If you suspect any infection see your doctor immediately.
How do you prevent insect bites?
Prevention is the way to go when it comes to insect bites. You can have bee hives and wasp nests professionally removed from your property. You can also be on the lookout for them when out in the woods. Keep in mind that bees will place their hives in odd spaces including low to the ground and under shrubs.
To avoid tick and spider bites wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when hiking in the woods. It also helps to put on a repellent and avoid brushing up against weeds, tall grass, etc. If you have pets make sure they are being treated for ticks, fleas, and lice. Check them often for insects.
Finally, repellent also works well against mosquitoes. If you hate the chemicals found in repellents then look for healthy alternatives such as Avon's Skin so Soft, eucalyptus oil, or dryer sheets. I'm not kidding. Dryer sheets work well at keeping insects at bay.
Enjoy your summer and I hope it's a lovely, insect free experience!
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