Beating the Bugs
Are you concerned about insects as your kids play outside during spring and summer? To help your young ones avoid bothersome bug bites, using bug sprays with DEET is effective. While the spray does not kill the bugs, it does repel them and make the skin less attractive to them.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, products containing up to 30 percent DEET can be safely used on children. The concentration determines how long the product will last, not the strength, so if you are concerned about the higher concentrations, you can use a lower number and apply more frequently.
If you want to avoid using DEET altogether, products made with lemon, vanilla, eucalyptus oil, soybean oil or citronella are also effective repellants; in addition, wearing light-colored clothes and, if reasonable, long-sleeved shirts, tucked in, and pants can help keep the bugs at bay.
• More tips to relieve bug bites and rashes.
• Treating and preventing lice.
Ditch the Itch
Whether it’s a mosquito, spider or flea bite, don’t scratch it! Scratching and rubbing only causes the foreign substance from the insect or bug to spread and can also cause scarring.
How to Soothe the Discomfort:
• Wash bites with soap and warm water to prevent infection
• Use a cold compress to relieve the swelling and itching
• Apply calamine lotion and hydrocortisone creams on affected areas
Contrary to popular belief, barbecue smoke will not deter bugs from swarming a picnic. Keep bugs at bay the natural way! Fill a narrow container, such as a glass soda bottle, with lemon and honey. The lemon works to attract the insects while the honey traps them. Be sure to keep the trap at least 5 feet away from the picnic area to decrease your risk of bug bites.
Move over aspirin: the latest anti-inflammatory treatment the medical community is buzzing about is … a bee sting! Most people jump at the sound of buzzing bees, but practitioners of this therapy swear the insect’s sting works wonders.
Chris Kleronomos specializes in bee sting therapy, or apitherapy, and says that bee venom is an excellent remedy for conditions like multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
• See how the Therapik laser relieves pain from bug bites and bee stings.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
Ticks such as the dog tick, lone star tick and the wood tick, are known to carry a host of health threats, including lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, both of which can be transmitted to its host once the parasite latches on. With Rocky Mountain spotted fever, the infection is caused by rickettsia rickettsii, a strain of bacteria carried by the ticks.
The disease typically starts as a rash on the extremities, gradually spreading to the body’s core. Signs that you may have Rocky Mountain spotted fever are vague: headaches, fever, nausea and muscle pain; however, if you have the tell-tale rash, see your doctor immediately.
West Nile Virus
West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and can turn deadly if misdiagnosed or left untreated. Antibiotics are ineffective against the virus, so the only defense is prevention and supportive care; however, only one percent of people have severe or deadly reactions, while 20 percent experience flu-like symptoms, and the majority of those infected have no symptoms at all. Most people recover from the disease without incident.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus:
• Body aches
• Muscle weakness
• Loss of vision
West Nile Virus Prevention Tips:
• Apply insect repellant
• Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts
• Drain any standing or stagnant water on your property, as it can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes
Most spider bites are harmless but can cause inflammation and irritated skin surrounding the bite mark; however, certain spiders, such as black widows and brown recluses, can pose serious health threats.
“A lot of times, you’re [uncertain] what the bite is from,” E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says.
If you’re at home and you’ve been bitten by a spider, try and catch the spider, so you can take it to the doctor with you, so he or she can identify it. With brown recluse spiders, Dr. Travis notes that because the spiders are reclusive, they often hide under rocks and in attics, sleeping bags and shoes.
“What happens, which is scary with these brown recluse bites, is it basically causes tissue necrosis, because the venom has enzymes in it that break up your tissue,” Dr. Travis explains. “There’s, quite frankly, not a whole lot you can do about it. The wound will progress.” In severe cases, reconstructive surgery is the only option for healing the damaged tissue.
“The brown recluse isn’t going to cause death. It’s just going to potentially cause tissue loss,” Dr. Travis adds.