Keep keen eye on bug bites this summer

A Baylor College of Medicine physician has some advice to help families enjoy outdoors.

“The most common bug-related issue seen by health care providers in our clinic in the summer is fire ant bites. There are usually lots of bites, since the ants attack in swarms,” said Dr. John Rogers, professor of family and community medicine at BCM.

Fire ant bites are typically painful, itchy, red bumps that can become small pustules, according to Rogers. To treat at home, wash the area with soap and water and apply a cool cloth to ease the pain.

Bee prepared

Other common summertime bug-induced ailments include bee or wasp stings and ticks.

In the case of a honeybee sting, Rogers said to carefully remove the stinger without squeezing the venom sac and then apply ice to the area.

“All bug bites can be treated with ice, anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen or naproxen) or pain reliever (acetaminophen). Non-prescription Benadryl or hydrocortisone cream can be used for itching,” said Rogers.

While many of these summertime bites and stings can be treated at home, Rogers warns to keep an eye out for the times when a doctor is needed.

Take allergic reactions seriously

If the person has shortness of breath, tightness in throat, severe hives, lightheadedness or begins wheezing, they should get to an emergency room immediately. Call 911 if symptoms are severe.

If these symptoms occur, Rogers said, the patient may have a history of insect allergy and might be carrying an Epi-Pen. This can be injected into the thigh muscle and save the person’s life.

“Even if there isn’t an immediate reaction, keep an eye on the area. If it develops more swelling and redness a few days after the sting occurred, it may be infected so you should see a doctor,” Rogers said.

After outdoor fun, families should check themselves for ticks, Rogers warned.

If the tick is removed less than 72 hours after it attaches to the body, there is less than a 1 percent chance of infection. However, if a tick is left on someone for more than 72 hours, they should seek medical attention especially if a bull’s eye rash develops or a red raised papule occurs at the site of the bite.