Beating Bug Bites

Bites from such bugs as ticks, mosquitoes and spiders can inflict so much pain and illness. But don't let these tiny things get to you. With the right protection, you get beat bug bites along with the diseases that they plan to share with you.

Ticks

• The Danger

Tick bites don't usually cause any harm. But if you chance upon the wrong tick, you may acquire illnesses like:
- Lyme disease
- ehrlichiosis
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Lyme disease can lead to more serious health problems like meningitis, Bell's palsy, foot drop, vision problems, and arthritis if left untreated.

• The Signs

The common early symptom of Lyme disease is a bull's eye rash accompanied with flu-like symptoms.

• The Prevention

- Avoid tick bites by wearing light colored pants so you can easily spot the ticks.
- Tuck your pants into your socks or boots.
- Use insect repellent.
- Check pets regularly for ticks so they don't bring them into the house.
- If a tick embeds into your skin, pull it out using sharply pointed tweezers. Go for the head if possible. Don't use bare hands, heat, petroleum jelly, or other products to remove it.

Mosquitoes

• The Danger

Mosquitoes bring more diseases than ticks. Just few examples are:
- West Nile Virus
- St. Louis encephalitis
- Eastern equine encephalitis
- La Crosse virus
- Dengue fever

• The Prevention

- Control spread of mosquitoes by removing stagnant waters which they use as breeding grounds.
- Always close the windows and doors of your house.
- Stay indoors between dusk and dawn, as these are the times when they are out to bite.
- Use bush sprays and foggers. Mosquito lamps can also provide some protection.

• If You Get Bitten

- Do not scratch. Instead, apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to relieve itchiness.
- Other things that can help include ice packs, cold baths, oatmeal baths, and astringents.
- If you have allergic reactions, you may take oral antihistamines. However, this only reduces the itching and not the swelling.

Spiders

• The Danger

It's good to know that the common household spider named the pale sac spider is quite harmless as its venom is not that toxic to people. However, dangerous spiders like the black widow or brown recluse spiders can bring you to the emergency room. The black widow has a distinct hourglass-shaped mark on its belly while the brown recluse has a violin-shaped mark on the back.

• The Signs

Bite from the black widow would feel like a pinprick. It would have red marks and swelling. Symptoms would include:
- stiffness
- fever
- abdominal pain
- nausea

The brown recluse bite on the other hand inflicts a stinging sensation. It turns into a blister then into an ulcer. Mild fever and nausea are common symptoms.

• The Prevention

- If you're going to work outside like in the garden, then wear gloves, long sleeves and long pants.
- Indoors, clean the house to remove spiders and webs.
- It's not a good idea to eliminate spiders altogether by spraying the house, since house spiders eat flies and fleas.

• If You Get Bitten by the black widow or brown recluse

- Clean the area with soap and water.
- Elevate the bitten leg or arm to reduce swelling.
- Apply cool compress on the bitten site.
- It's imperative to go to the hospital right away to get anti-venom medication and treatment.

 


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