Protecting Your Skin from Bugs this Summer

Protecting Your Skin from Bugs this Summer

With summer underway and outdoor activities on the rise, it is more important than ever to care for our skin appropriately. In addition to protecting ourselves from damaging ultraviolet rays, we also need to consider other threats to our skin such as bug bites and stings. While most insects are harmless, some can be dangerous if they transmit a disease or trigger an allergic reaction. Prevention of insect bites and stings has a much higher value than treatment. This can best be achieved by wearing protective clothing and using insect repellents containing 20-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing.

Mosquito bites are a common summer nuisance that occur when a female mosquito feeds on human blood. Your body recognizes the mosquito’s saliva as an allergen, which results in histamine release at the site. This triggers a cascade of immune reactions leading to itchiness, redness, and swelling. Try your best to not scratch the bite as this ultimately prolongs your itching and can damage your skin, increasing the risk of infection and scarring. The itching can be treated with cortisone cream or oral antihistamines. You can also apply a cool compress to the area as chilling the skin will cause the blood vessels to constrict and reduce the swelling and itch. 

Ticks are another frequent summer threat that are usually harmless, but some may spread diseases including Lyme disease. Tick bites tend to be painless and not noticed by the victim, so it is important to search for ticks on the skin and scalp after spending time in grassy or wooded areas. If you notice a small, red bump that grows into a bullseye-shaped rash or experience fever, aches, or flu-like symptoms, seek medical care immediately as untreated Lyme disease can lead to serious complications of your heart and joints.

The most common insect stings are caused by bees, wasps, and ants. The stings can be quite painful and cause a local or systemic reaction. Most symptoms resolve within a few days and can be managed with cortisone cream or over-the-counter pain medications. Immediate medical care is required for individuals who have life-threatening reactions such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the face, neck, or tongue.

These are just a few of many skin conditions you may encounter in the summer season. If you are unsure about something that pops up on your skin, be sure to make an appointment with one of our PAs!

Abrielle Mumm, PA-C

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