Tips on preparing for summer insect bites

Summer is the time to be outdoors enjoying the fresh air, warm sunshine and soaking in everything mother nature has to offer.

While the dangers of frostbite are in the rearview mirror, insect bites and stings pose a new threat. Stings from bees, wasps and ants account for more than 10 million insect stings a year. In addition to being a nuisance, insect bites and stings can lead to infections and allergic reactions that can be life-threatening.

Prevention is the best way to protect from any form of insect bite, including tick bites. Walking in the center of outdoor trails while using repellents containing 20-30 percent DEET can help ward off ticks. When you have completed your walk or hike, be sure to shower and conduct a full body check to be sure no ticks have attached themselves on yourself or hitched a ride on your pet. Tumble clothes on high heat for one hour to kill any other remaining ticks.

If a tick is spotted, use fine tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. While pulling gently but firmly, use steady pressure to remove the tick, taking care not to squeeze or crush the body of the tick, which could lead to increased transmission of the bacteria that cause tick-born illnesses.

Stings from bees, wasps and ants can progress quickly and develop into life threatening symptoms, if not recognized and treated properly.

If stung, remove the stinger from the skin by scraping it away. After the stinger has been removed, be aware of any complications that may arise from allergens such as rashes, itching, swelling, disorientation, weakness, cramping, vomiting and breathing problems.

Cool compresses and antihistamines can help with some localized allergic reactions. Tylenol and ibuprofen can be used to alleviate mild discomfort at the site. If you experience symptoms that extend beyond just the site of the sting, seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 for any symptoms of difficulty breathing, swallowing, chest pain, vomiting or disorientation associated with stings.

“Along with being itchy and irritating, mosquito bites can lead to other more dangerous infections,” says Dr. LouAnne Ten Kate. “One infection that gets attention in Upstate New York is the West Nile Virus.”

While treatments are available for all insect bites, prevention is key:

  • Use insect sprays containing DEET and permethrin on clothing
  • Wear long sleeves, pants and socks
  • Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when possible

For those who have concerns from various insect bites, Five Star Urgent Care recommends consulting with your primary care provider, or visiting the nearest Five Star facility to determine the proper medical treatment.

For any life-threatening symptoms, call 911. To find a location nearest you, visit FiveStarUC.com.

Five Star Urgent Care is a walk-in facility that offers quality care for non-emergent medical needs without the wait. With five locations across Upstate New York, including Big Flats, Cicero, Fairmount, Ithaca, and Jamestown, Five Star Urgent Care is certified by the Urgent Care Association of America. Facilities are open seven days a week, with on-site x-rays and no appointment necessary.

For more information about Five Star Urgent Care, visit www.FiveStarUC.com.