A woman applies insect repellent on her hand in a park.
Healthcare tips

Tips for Managing Summer Bug Bites

June 18, 2024

School is officially out and so is the sun! Summer is a great time to get outdoors, enjoy nature, soak up the sun, and pursue exciting adventures like hiking, camping, and water sports.

Unfortunately, summer is also when mosquitos and other insects are most active. Not only are mosquito bites itchy and bothersome, but they also can spread disease. Insect repellants keep mosquitos and other bugs away so you can enjoy summer without the itch — but even when you take the proper precautions it’s still likely that you may get bitten.

In this article, we’ll explore some top tips for preventing and treating bug bites. 

Be Prepared with the Right Type of Spray

As you get outside and on the move this summer, it’s important to prevent getting swarmed by bugs as best as you can. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the use of bug sprays. Let’s dig into some of the most common types available today. 

DEET Bug Sprays: DEET bug sprays are one of the most popular and effective options for repelling bugs. The spray acts like a force field that surrounds you, keeping the bugs from landing and biting. DEET works due to its distinct odor that keeps mosquitoes away and confuses them, but it also creates a protective barrier on the skin that makes it hard for mosquitoes to land.

DEET sprays usually come in different strengths, such as 10%, 20%, or 30%. The higher the percentage, the longer the protection lasts, but it's essential you follow the instructions on the bottle and consult with your dermatologist on how to use it safely.

Picaridin Bug Sprays: Picaridin is another powerful bug repellent. It is just as effective as DEET but has a milder smell and may feel less oily on the skin. Picaridin sprays are generally regarded as safe for the whole family and are an excellent option if you're looking for a bug spray but dislike or are sensitive to the smell of DEET. 

Natural Bug Sprays: If you prefer more natural options or have had adverse reactions to traditional bug sprays, then some bug sprays use essential oils like citronella, lemongrass, or eucalyptus may be an excellent option to keep bugs away. These natural bug sprays can be a good choice for people with sensitive skin or those who want to avoid chemicals. 

You can even make your own! Combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup witch hazel then add 30 to 40 drops of essential oil. Keep in mind that they might need more frequent reapplication compared to DEET or Picaridin sprays.

De-Bug Your Environment

Apart from sprays, you can also find mosquito-repelling coils and candles. These work by releasing a scent that mosquitoes dislike when the coil or candle is lit. They can be useful for keeping bugs away from small outdoor areas like patios and decks, but they might not be as effective in large open spaces. 

If mosquitoes keep finding their way into your yard, there are steps you can take to make them less likely to hang around. Mosquitoes like to lay their eggs in standing water so be sure to inspect your yard and remove any stagnant water sources. Some common places to find it are buckets, clogged gutters, and flower pots. Plants like citronella, lavender, basil, rosemary, and marigold emit natural scents that mosquitoes dislike, so planting them near a patio or in your yard can help keep them at bay. 

Treating Your Bug Bites

Even with near-perfect adherence to prevention measures, bug bites can still happen. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to treat bug bites from home. If you experience any concerning symptoms after a bug bite, such as a rash, fever, or body aches, see your doctor or dermatologist immediately.

If you can’t stop itching: Try cooling down the affected area with a cold cloth or an ice pack. If that doesn’t offer the relief you need, you can also apply an over-the-counter anti-itch cream, such as hydrocortisone, or take an over-the-counter oral antihistamine. If you have very sensitive skin, be sure to discuss any topical solutions with your doctor.

If your bites are uncomfortable and swollen: Apply a cold compress or covered ice to the area until the swelling subsides.

With so many options, the odds are that you’ll find an insect repellent that works for you and your family this summer! Rest assured, if you do get the occasional bite that relief is often achievable at home or with a quick visit to your dermatologist. 

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