- Hives, or flushed skin
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or fainting
- Weak and rapid pulse
- High fever
- Stiff neck
- Muscle weakness
- Vision loss
- Numbness and paralysis
- Body aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. Mosquitoes like to breed in damp areas where water collects and stagnates. Get rid of standing water. Dump watering cans and cover outdoor garbage bins.
- Stay covered and wear light-colored clothing. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, while bees are attracted to bright ones. Think like a beekeeper: wear white. Also wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce exposure.
- Avoid fruity or floral fragrances. Both bees and mosquitoes are attracted to scent and are adept at sensing even the subtlest fragrances, such as laundry detergent, sunscreen, and hair products. Avoid wearing perfume and opt for scent-free products.
- Buy a mild repellant. If mixing up your own repellant takes too much of your time, try a milder skin application such as Bug Guard Plus by Avon. When these defenses fail, or if you're prone to bug bites or in areas where insect-borne diseases are common, use a product containing the pesticide DEET, which is generally considered to be safe for use on adults and older children. Avoid using DEET on children's hands or anywhere on infants under two months. Products that contain DEET include Off! and Repel.
- Load up on vitamin C, which is a natural antihistamine. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2 grams of vitamin C per day decreased blood histamine levels by 38 percent.
- Wash mosquito bites with mild soap and water and try not to scratch them.
- Use Calamine lotion or a cortisone cream to soothe irritated areas.
- For bee stings, pull the stinger out. Those who are not allergic will develop redness, pain, and swelling at the area of the sting, which can be treated with an ice pack.
- More serious symptoms can be the result of an allergic reaction. Watch for itching, hives, and shortness of breath. If you have a history of being severely allergic, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen). You can carry an EpiPen with you and self-inject if you're having an anaphylactic episode.
Ah, summer. There's nothing like dining al fresco or spending family time around the campfire. But who invited those pesky buggers? Bugs, mosquitoes, and bees can put a damper on summer fun faster than you can say picnic. But with a little preparation, you can enjoy your time outdoors without any residual itching.
For most bug bites, the answer is saliva. The insect leaves some behind and the swelling and itching is your body's reaction to it. The itchiness can persist long after the swelling goes away, as your body continues to break down the saliva proteins. Bees do their work a little differently. Instead of saliva, they leave behind venom. When you're first bitten by a bee, you may have only a slight reaction. The second time around, the immune system becomes sensitized to the venom. If you're allergic, anaphylaxis could occur within minutes. This life-threatening, severe allergic reaction happens when your body releases an excess of histamines. Symptoms include:
If you or someone you're with experiences any of these symptoms after a bee sting, inject epinephrine and go to the ER immediately.
Mosquitoes and other insects may carry diseases. In the United States, the West Nile virus (WNV) is on the rise in some states, spread through bites from infected mosquitoes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in 150 people will develop severe illness from an infected mosquito. Look out for the following symptoms:
These symptoms can last a few weeks, or may be permanent. About 80 percent of those infected with the WNV have no symptoms at all.
Drugstores offer a large array of products that claim to keep these little pests away. You can also use natural repellants and take proactive measures to reduce or avoid the use of synthetic chemicals.
Although prevention can go a long way, you may still come away with a few bites. Here are a few tips that can help you deal with the swelling and itching: