The usual benefit of the warm seasons, getting to spend more time outdoors, is easily overshadowed by a very annoying little detail, like ending up with a bug bite or sting. But that is not the entire story, because more often than not that is just the first step towards a bug bite rash that seems to strike just when you finally feel that you are in touch with the Mother Nature. Normally we jump to the opportunity of some time off from the crowded and polluted scenery that our cities have to offer, and go for the tranquility of the natural landscape, but we do it being unprepared and unwary.
And while all nature lovers will agree that nothing can match a simple walk in the forest or a sunny day at the beach. We must remain aware that any outdoor activity involves sharing the same habitat with a very wide variety of bugs. And sometimes you don’t even need to go as far as some exotic place, bites and stings can become a reality while barbequing in your own backyard or in the worst circumstances in your own home.
The reason for which bites and stings are a common issue on any summer’s agenda is mostly because of the sheer number of bugs. Insects, arachnids and other small organisms share their living environment with us. And in fact most if not all of the small invertebrates are older, larger in numbers and better adapted to the environment than people. In a strange way we are in fact the intruders, or if you like the ones that are bugging them.
With this in mind, it becomes very clear that in order to mitigate the risks of getting stung or bitten we have to become more aware of our natural surroundings and try to understand what exactly are the situations that put us at risk and what are the best ways to treat such an unpleasant situations.
Stings and Bites what are the differences?
Stings are caused by several types of poisonous insects that are capable of injecting irritating substances, in order to protect or attack what they perceive as intruders or prey. Probably the most sting prone insects are the bees (e.g. honey bee, bumble bee, the African killer bee) and the wasps (e.g. paper wasps, hornets, yellow jackets). And because of the hive mentality of these creatures and the fact that many of they live in large colonies, it means that rarely you will escape being stung only once.
With bites there is a different story, mainly because anything that moves has the capacity to bite. That is why there are far more species of bugs that have to be considered when thinking about bites. Roughly speaking, bites can be classified into three major categories:
1. Not harmful ones, different types of spiders and ants only bite with a defensive purpose and are not delivering any venom, these kinds of bites are just warning signs to keep your distance.
2. Poisonous bites, spiders usually but also some types of ants are capable of injecting various amounts and types of venom, these types of bites can lead to serious health complications.
3. Disease transmitting bites, bed bug, ticks or mosquitoes are well known vectors for a wide range of infectious diseases.
Stings usually hurt and lead to localized symptoms: skin redness, swelling, and itchy or painful sensation. Symptoms which are normal body reactions and usually are not considered dangerous in any way. However, sensitive persons, who are allergic to insect venom, may have some systemic reactions, including dangerous cardiac and breathing problems. That is why it is highly recommend for those who are known to be allergic, to always carry a kit against anaphylactic shock with them.
In contrast, allergic reactions associated with bites are a rarer occurrence. However, bites present their own risks, because bugs that come in contact with human blood can be carriers of infectious diseases, like malaria and Lyme disease.
Tips for keeping safe
As long as we are all made of flesh and blood, there are no definitive ways of avoiding bug bites and stings entirely. However, usually is safe to keep clear of any dark and undisturbed places that have been staying like that for a longer period. Attics and cellars are favorite in house places for bugs to hide; outside, bugs’ favorite places are under rocks, under and old piece of wood and any other place where they can be safely hidden.
But in case you do get bitten and you don’t know what bit you, it is highly recommended to watch the developing symptoms closely, and try avoiding infection around the bite area. And, while there is no universal treatment for all types of stings or bites, there are several simple and effective measures you can take depending on the type of bite or sting on one our website pages.
Simple diagnosis steps
Usually after a bug bite the affected place will display some specific features like:
A change in the skin appearance, texture and color.
Itching or pain, sometimes accompanied by a burning sensation.
After some time from the bite, it is possible that the skin degrades around the affected area, by becoming: bumpy, dry, cracked or blistered.
The above, not necessarily all of them together are the most common symptoms of a bug bite rash in developing, rash that can be either localized around the bite or extended to other parts of the skin. This is a reaction very similar to an allergic reaction that is usually caused by different types of food or plants (e.g. poison ivy) or any other external causes.
However, in case the above symptoms are associated with one or more of the following: wheezing, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, swelling (other than that of the bite area), shortness of breath, heart palpitations or chest pain, muscle pain. Take extra care and proceed to calling your doctor immediately.
Also to go into more detail with specific sting or bite symptoms associated with common bugs, please read any of our website pages.
How to treat a bug bite rash?
- The first step is always not panicking, because a large proportion of all bites and stings are going only to trigger some mild skin rashes.
- Wash the bite mark with soap and water in order to remove any toxic substances left as a result of the bite or sting.
- Apply an ice pack on the bite mark, causing an endothermic reaction, which will absorb heat from the affected place and make the area less sensitive.
- Take any kind of oral over the counter pain relievers (e.g. acetaminophen, ibuprofen), which are useful in counteracting the sensory system response.
- Apply external analgesics, usually anything that contains (hydrocortisone, pramoxine or lidocaine), are quite efficient in order to quickly relieve the pain or the itching sensation.
As a final note, please take all of the above precautions and try first the initial simple remedies, but immediately call your doctor in case there are systemic reactions like: shortness of breath, nausea, headaches or other unusual health conditions.