Insect bites are the one thing about summer that really bugs me. With summer's approach, we will be spending more time outdoors enjoying walks through the woods, barbecues at the lake and camping in the parks. Unfortunately, no matter how fast or how much you swat, the bugs will outnumber you.
The most common insects that bite us are mosquitos, flies, fleas, spiders, ticks, chiggers, wasps and bees. Your first line of defense against bites and stings is to prepare yourself and your family. To make this summer's outside activities more enjoyable (and less painful) here are some "dos and don'ts" to avoid bug bites and stings:
- Keep all food covered and clean spills immediately when picnicking.
- Wear light-colored clothing that fits snug at the wrists and ankles.
- Use insect repellent torches or bug "zappers."
- Reapply insect repellent after swimming or activities that make you sweat.
- Use insect repellents sparingly. They are safest if rubbed or sprayed on clothing. The most effective repellents contain the chemical DEET. Choose sprays that do not contain more than 10% DEET. Do not spray young children, especially under the age of one, with repellents that contain DEET.
- After applying insect repellent, be sure to wash your hands.
- Keep the poison center phone number handy: 800-222-1222.
- Use insect repellents on infants. An alternative is to cover strollers with mosquito netting and keep children indoors.
- Wear perfumes and scented lotions, hair sprays or cosmetics when outdoors.
- Wear dark-colored clothing.
- Allow food to spoil in picnic areas.
- Stay near pools of stagnant waters, which are a breeding ground for mosquitos.
If an insect bites or stings you despite all of your efforts, you can soothe the itch with calamine lotion, topical anesthetics, hydrocortisone cream or even a homemade baking soda paste.
Report a worrisome or unusual insect bite or sting to the poison center immediately at 800-222-1222.