When Bugs Bite

Summer usually means picnics and family reunions, but it also means a reunion with insects that can wreak havoc on outdoor activities. Follow these tips to minimize the potential for bug bites and bee stings.

When outdoors – especially in wooded areas – wear long sleeves, pants, and socks to help protect your skin from insect bites. Be aware that insects may be drawn to scented soaps and perfumes. Also, cover food and drain or dump standing water.

“Although applying insect repellent may help adults and children avoid bug bites, these products are unsafe to use on infants,” says Farshad Bagheri, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist atJamaicaHospitalMedicalCenter. “Repellents containing citronella or less than 10 to 30 percent DEET are safe for older children, but they should only be applied once and washed off as soon as possible.”

Treating Bites and Bee Stings

 If a sting occurs, remove the stinger as soon as possible by scraping the area with your fingernail or something with a flat surface, such as a credit card. For bee and wasp stings and non-poisonous spider bites, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water and apply ice to reduce swelling. Continue to wash two or three times daily until the skin has healed.

“Be sure to talk with your physician before taking antihistamines or other over-the-counter medications for itching to avoid potential drug interactions,” says Dr. Bagheri.

Severe Reactions

“If you notice swelling or a rash around the site of a sting or if pain persists for three days, seek medical attention,” says Dr. Bagheri. “Dizziness, nausea, tightness of the throat or chest, wheezing, or swelling of the lips, face, or tongue can indicate a severe allergic reaction, which requires immediate emergency medical attention.”

If you or your child is stung in the mouth, seek medical attention immediately. Severe swelling occurs quickly in oral mucous membranes and can block airways, making breathing difficult or impossible.

If you have a severe reaction to a bug bite, go to the nearest hospital Emergency Room or call 911. Otherwise, to schedule an appointment, please call 718-206-6742.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.