Protect against summer stings and bites

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Summer holiday weekends are best spent outdoors enjoying time with family and friends.

But for those of us who are trying to avoid those dreaded summer mosquito bites, experts say it’s best to be mindful of when we’re spending our time outdoors.

“When it comes to summer pests, the mosquito is one of the most common, and we should try to stay away from mosquito breeding times, which is usually at dawn and dusk, so make sure you’re indoors during those times,” said Neha Vyas, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic. 

Vyas said another effective way to prevent bug bites is by wearing insect repellent with ‘DEET’ or long sleeves and pants during times when mosquitos are active.

If mosquitos are a consistent problem in your outdoor space, she said it’s a good idea to take a look around to see if your yard is harboring any potential mosquito breeding areas.

“You really want to look at your area around you and see if you have any flower pots, that are empty, and are collecting water, or even near your garden hose – there may be a pool of water,” Vyas said. “Empty bird baths, empty tires, or even low-lying areas of grass that do not get proper irrigation can be places where mosquitos like to breed.” 

And while mosquito bites are more likely to occur at dawn and dusk, bee and wasp stings typically happen during the daytime.

When it comes to avoiding a painful sting, Vyas recommends being mindful of where bees and wasps are hanging around – and avoiding those areas.

If you get stung, using a cold compress can help alleviate pain, as well as taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.

If a bee leaves a stinger behind – try to remove it right away using a sterile pair of tweezers because the longer it stays in, the more of a reaction it will cause.

People who have a known allergy to insect stings should always carry an epinephrine pen with them at all times.

When it comes to mosquito bites and bee stings, Vyas said it’s best to resist the urge to scratch them, as scratching can increase the risk of infection.

She said most people can tolerate a mosquito bite or a bee sting and not have any long term problems. 

However, some people are more likely to have reactions that require medical attention.

“For some people, there is something called anaphylaxis, which can happen after you’ve been stung by an insect,” Vyas said. “If you feel as though you’re getting short of breath, or a tingling in your throat, or certainly swelling of your face, or your lips or your tongue; or if you start see some bumps, some red spots throughout your body, away from the area where you’ve been bitten, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.”