From prevention to aftercare, here are some basic tricks on dealing with bug bites:
It’s that time of year again! Hot sunny days, cool lakes, laughing campers, bonfires, and… bug bites. By now all of you are fully acquainted with Canada’s most common seasonal insects:
- The mosquito
- Flies – black flies, deerflies, horseflies
First, let’s talk prevention:
- Use insect repellent when outdoors (In Canada, insect repellents that contain DEET are the most effective)
- Cover up. Wear long-sleeved shirts (if it is hot, lightweight cotton shirts are good) with cuffs and collars that can be buttoned tight, as well as long pants with elastic cuffs (or tuck your pants into your socks). Black flies will land on you and then crawl under clothing if they can.
- Wear light-coloured clothing (white, tan, khaki, etc.) – black flies are attracted to dark colours.
- Wear a bug jacket available at local sporting goods retailers.
- Use a mosquito net in your cabin
But… there is only so much you can do to prevent these little pests from feeding on your blood, so when the inevitable happens here is how to recognize bites and aftercare tips!
Signs and Symptoms of bug bites:
An insect bite reaction happens when the venom / saliva is injected in to your skin (gross, right?!) This causes pain and sometimes triggers an allergic reaction. The severity of the reaction depends on your sensitivity to the insect venom or substance and whether you’ve been stung or bitten more than once.
Most reactions to insect bites are mild, causing little more than an annoying itching or stinging sensation and mild swelling that disappear within a day or so. Only a small percentage of people develop severe reactions to insect venom (such as: nausea, severe swelling, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, shock)
*For severe reactions seek help from a trained health care professional.
For Mild Reactions… read on!
- Move to a safe area to avoid more stings.
- Apply a cold pack or cloth filled with ice to reduce pain and swelling.
- Try a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), to ease pain from bites or stings.
- Apply a topical cream to ease pain and provide itch relief. Creams containing ingredients such as hydrocortisone, lidocaine or pramoxine may help control pain. Other creams, such as calamine lotion or those containing colloidal oatmeal or baking soda, can help soothe itchy skin.
- Take an antihistamine containing diphenhydramine (Benadryl, others) or chlorpheniramine maleate (Chlor-Trimeton, others).
- Don’t scratch! Scratching your bug bites can lead to cuts and infection. Try all of the above and add some willpower to stop yourself from further irritating the bites.
Good luck out there, NYQUESTers and don’t let the bugs get you down!