Most insect bites and stings are minor annoyances that drive us crazing with itching for a few hours or days, and produce ugly looking welts, but aren't really serious. But sometimes symptoms can take a turn toward the serious and here are some ideas to help.
FLY STING AND MOSQUITO BITE RELIEF
These annoying flying critters can make you pretty uncomfortable when they decide to munch on you so here is what you can do. Further, they can carry some pretty horrid diseases – like West Nile Virus.
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #1: Disinfect ASAP!
Disinfect the bite. Mosquito's and flies can spread definitely spread disease so be sure to thoroughly wipe the sting or bite with soap and water and apply an antiseptic.
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #2: The Lowly Aspirin Tablet
Rub an aspirin onto the sting or bite as soon as possible after you're bitten. The aspirin will control inflammation and this is a safe preventative – unless you're allergic to aspirin, of course.
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #3: OTC Medicines
Fly stings and mosquito bites may produce swelling and drive-you-crazy itching for several days days and an OTC [over-the-counter] allergy or cold medicine can relieve both symptoms.
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #4: The Famous Calamine Lotion
Calamine lotion is extremely well known as an itching-relief substance. It's very commonly used for poison plants, but you can also effectively use calamine lotion for insect bites and stings. It's cheap and easy to find. In fact, having a bottle of calamine as a permanent resident in your home is an excellent idea.
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #5: Icy Counter Attacks
The famous ice pack is a decades-old treatment to relieve the discomfort of any insect raid. You can even use small frozen veggies like peas to relieve the misery.
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #6: Salt
Add enough water to any kind of salt to make a paste and apply it to the bite. Some say that a salt paste draws out the poison while others disagree. Whatever the truth of that assertion, it definitely helps the discomfort.
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #7: Baking Soda
Baking soda will also relieve pain and itching. Some 'recipes' for baking soda seem way too weak to me – for instance, one herbologist suggest one teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a glass of water. I prefer a stronger brew. I make a baking soda paste, like the salt above, and apply it to the sting. Dip some cotton into your baking soda mix and leave it on the bite for at least 15-30 minutes, refreshing it every few minutes.
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #8: Epsom Salts
Dissolve epsom salts in water. What amount? Approximately one tablespoon per each glass of water and apply like the baking soda above.
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #9: To Deet Or Not To Deet?
Use a repellent so that you don't get bitten in the first place. Bites supposedly come from the female mosquito who needs our protein to produce their offspring. They are attracted by two things:
The carbon dioxide in our breath …
The odor from our skin …
Repellents 'mask' those attractors, rather than kill the insect.
The most famous repellent on the market is N,M-dpethyl-m-toluamide, otherwise known as Deet. It's tremendously popular and used by huge numbers of people. Still, there are some safety concerns, especially for children or pregnant women, so everyone must make their own decision about whether to use it or not. For maximum safety:
Don't use it under clothing
Make sure it doesn't get into your eyes
For children, it's suggested that no repellent be more than 10% Deet
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #10: Clorox. Clorox?
A famous insect repellent is to take a bath of two capfuls of bleach in a tub of water before going outside. If you choose to follow this method, stay in the tub for at least 15 minutes and 'dab' yourself dry, rather than toweling vigorously. Be careful not to get the chlorine-water into your eyes.
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #11: Famous Bath Oil Repellents
A safer alternative to Deet are a couple of bath oils that flies and mosquito's seem to seriously dislike: Alpha Keri and Avon's Skin-So-Soft.
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #12: If It's Good Enough For An Autopsy
Some folks swear by Vicks VapoRub as an insect repellent. It's a very, very strong odor – so awful that police habitually use it under their noses when attending an autopsy. I personally detest the smell so I can understand why insects might not like it, either. :-)
Fly & Mosquito Bite Treatment #13: Just Like Vampires …
Stay away from these dratted insects! Flies and mosquito's love hot, hot weather and mosquito's particularly love standing water. Some species become especially active at dusk and later and they're attracted by outdoor lighting. If you're in their territory, you're fair game.
HORNETS, WASPS, YELLOW JACKETS & BEE STINGS
These stinging insects actually inject venom into your skin which is why we suffer from pain, redness and swelling at the site of the staying. The misery can last for quite some time. I received a wasp sting that hurt for a couple of weeks – and the ugly, red welt lasted longer than that.
Depending upon the insect that zings you, and if you are unlucky enough to get multiple stings, the problem can be much worse and of much longer duration.
Let's face it: the insects vastly outnumber us! So here's what to do if you're one of their victims.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #14: Know Your Kamikaze Enemy
Know what kind of insect just zapped you! That will give you the best clue about appropriate treatment – and might help you avoid more assaults on your tender little body. For instance, the honey bee is a one-time ninja: its stinger remains in your body and the bee then dies. So, you will need to remove that stinger to avoid the worst pain as well as possible infection.
On the other hand, hornets, bumble bees, wasps and yellow jackets have smooth stingers that can zap you repeatedly. The best way to handle their attacks is to … run!
Yellow jackets are a special problem because they have venom sacs and when they're smashed, they release a chemical that signals the rest of the hive to attack, attack, attack. If you kill a yellow jacket, get out of the area immediately.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #15: Fast Action Against Insect Road Rage
Treat your sting immediately. The faster you apply some first aid, the less suffering you will have. When I was stung by the hornet I mentioned above, I was cutting the grass (an act which seems to incite them to the hornet version of Road Rage) and finished mowing before doing anything about the sting. I will never do that again if I'm unfortunate to tangle with a hornet. (Hornet = 1, Sydney = 0).
Just like the flies and mosquitoes mentioned above, these insects are scavengers, and often carry dangerous bacteria in their venom. So be sure that you clean out the bite immediately using methods we've already discussed.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #16: Scrape Out The Stinger
If you were zapped by a honey bee, remove the stinger right away because the poison sac will continue to pump venom into your body for two or three more minutes.
But be careful how you remove this stinger so that you don't accidentally release more poison into your system. The best way it to gently SCRAPE it out with a nail file or the edge of a credit card.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #17: Oral Antihistamine
Take an oral antihistamine. Some of the most popular are Dimetapp, Robitussin, Nytol, Sominex, NyQuil and Alka-Seltzer Plus. Since they're mild sedatives and pain relievers, they make us feel a bit better, plus they lessen the swelling, throbbing and redness caused by insect venom.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #18: Copy The Arctic
Using an ice pack can deaden the pain – but only if you act quickly. If you wait, the poison will spread and the throbbing and redness will have a firm foothold and will last until your body eliminates the poison. With cold, the venom is less likely to spread.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #19: Or The Desert
Oddly, heat can also reduce inflammation and the easiest way to apply it is with a hair dryer, aimed directly at your sting. The poison is more likely to remain localized if you use heat.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #20 & 21: Aspirin & Baking Soda
As mentioned above, both aspirin and baking soda will neutralize some of the agents in the venom that cause pain to the human body. Use them as directed above.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #22: Meat Tenderizer
Meat tenderizers, like McCormicks, break down the proteins that make up insect venom. Simply make a paste and apply it to the wound – IF it's soon after your sting. If you wait half an hour or so, it will be useless. The key is to neutralize the poison ASAP.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #23: Activated Charcoal
You can buy activated charcoal at most drugstores. It usually comes in capsules so open a capsule or two and mix it with water to make a paste and apply to the sting. Activated charcoal keeps poison from being absorbed into the body, so again, this remedy must be used quickly. It works best when moist so cover your charcoal paste with plastic wrap or a bandage.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #24: Red Georgia Mud For Me
I live in Georgia which is famous for its red clay and this clay works well for fighting the poison when nothing else is available. There are certainly other types of soils that work well. Simply moisten your dirt into a mud paste, cover it and leave it on your bite until it's totally dry. At that time, do it again if the bite is still painful.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #25: Wear Light Colors
Obviously, not getting stung in the first place is your best 'treatment' so wear white, preferably, and if not white, then very light colors. Ever seen a beekeeper? There's a reason they wear white. Stinging insects seem to like darker colors so don't attract them by wearing Goth.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #26: Don't Be A Flower
Don't let an insect think you are a nectar-bearing flower! Perfume, aromatherapy, aftershave, etc., are nothing more than engraved invitations to the insect world.
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #27: Flee The Buzzing Horde
If you're being pursued by a horde of enraged insects … RUN! The best places to go are inside, obviously – unless they might fly in with you – or head for woods or jump into water.
I was personally surprised by the 'head for the woods' advice, when researching this article. But researchers at the Cornell University Cooperative Extension service claim that stinging insects have trouble "following their prey through a thicket of woods".
Stinging Insect Bites Treatment #28: Eau de Turpentine
Supposedly, stinging insects don't attack house painters because they detest the odor of turpentine. Works for me. It's not an especially nice smell, but it's better than insect stings.
DEER TICKS & LYME DISEASE
Lyme disease is extremely serious – especially if not treated early. Early symptoms are a rash, fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and painful joints. If left untreated, Lyme disease can adversely and even permanently affect human joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Since the primary source of Lyme disease is ticks, they are at the top of our 'dangerous insect' list.
The first sign of Lyme Disease is a rash and fever. The incubation time is usually one-two weeks but can be as short as three days or as long as a month. Watch the tick bite area and seek treatment if you notice any symptoms.
A Lyme Disease diagnosis is the only way to treat this condition after you've been bitten, so obviously the best way is to avoid deer ticks in the first place.
Lyme Disease & Ticks #29: Cool/Cold Weather Is The Only Safe Time
These dangerous ticks seem to be most active in June and July, but we're vulnerable to them in all the warm weather months – early spring until fall. So, if you're going to be outside, especially in areas of high grass (even ocean sand dunes) or in woods, it's best to cover all exposed skin – even though it might be 100 degrees outside! Wear shoes with heavy socks and pull your pants down over your socks. It's wise to put heavy rubber bands or straps near the bottom of your pants so that ticks can't crawl up your pants legs.
Likewise, wear jackets or long sleeves – no tank tops or bare chest (if you're a guy, of course! :-)
How To Discover If There Are Ticks In Your Area: tie a piece of white flannel to a string and drag it through the grass or underbrush. Examine it frequently. If the little fiends are in the vicinity they will hitch a ride on the cloth.
Lyme Disease & Ticks #30: Slather Permethrin On Your Clothes
Permethrin kills ticks and lots of other insects but you do NOT want it on your skin! There is some evidence that it's carcinogenic (cancer causing). But you can put it on your clothing, and it should kill ticks for about two weeks.
If you put Permethrin on your clothes, store those clothes in a plastic bag until your wear them the next time. And be certain to scrub your hands thoroughly after either removing them or putting them on your body.
Lyme Disease & Ticks #31: The Nightly "Tick Inspection"
Whenever you come home from the woods or sand dunes, or at least before going to bed, do a "Tick Inspection". Ticks are quite tiny and you need to inspect every inch of your body before assuming you don't have any. They're easy to miss – although they will get much larger as they feast on your blood! Yuck.
Lyme Disease & Ticks #32: Remove Dracula Jr.
Once ticks grab you, they're as determined not to be removed as you are to get rid of them. If you're too aggressive, you might leave part of its body in your skin which can cause a dandy infection. I remember my father getting them off me with a cigarette but it was a very delicate operation so tweezers can be much easier. Don't pull too fast, though – we don't want the darned insect to pull apart. Well, we do, but not until it's out of our body.
Lyme Disease & Ticks #33: A Lyme Disease Vaccine?
This blog is about natural health and vaccines can be suspect. Still, there is a Lyme disease vaccine and it's something to discuss with a medical practitioner, if interested.
Once you've removed the tick, wash the bite area and apply an antiseptic so it won't get infected.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Symptoms
One last horror from ticks is Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It's relatively rare but if can be deadly if it goes untreated. The symptoms are a rash, terrible headaches and high fever. Seek treatment immediately if you even suspect you might have it.
The consequences of insect bites and stings range from annoying to deadly. And we haven't even mentioned spiders or more esoteric insects. So use the 29 ideas above to keep yourself and your family safe from the miniature predators.