A woman sprays herself with bug spray.
Cottage Virtual Care is available 24/7 to treat most common conditions. (Cottage Health photo.)
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Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors and warm weather, but with more skin exposed it’s also prime season for insect bites.

Mosquito bites are the most common in our area and the good news is that the vast majority of mosquito and other bug bites are not poisonous, said Tina Sary, nurse practitioner at Cottage Virtual Care.

“Bug bites are very itchy and can cause redness and swelling. If there is no pain or pus then you should not be worried,” she said.

Prevention is the best measure. If you’re planning to spend time outdoors, use insect repellent or cover up with clothing. The most effective insect repellents are those that contain DEET (N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, or diethyltoluamide). There is also some evidence that certain essential oils may help keep bugs away, Sary added.

Although most bug bites are harmless, they can cause uncomfortable itchiness. There are options for finding relief.

First, wash the bite area with soap and water and keep the area clean. Avoid scratching the bite as this can invite bacteria to enter the skin. 

To alleviate the itchiness and swelling, apply a hydrocortisone topical cream or take a non-drowsy antihistamine, such as Benadryl. Calamine lotion and a paste made with baking soda and water also can provide relief.

Taking a bath and adding baking soda to the water can help if there are many bites all over the body.

Most bites will heal on their own within a few days to a week. Signs of a serious issue that needs medical attention include pain and inflammation in the bite areas, hives and rashes, discharge of pus, trouble breathing or swallowing, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness.

Seek medical attention right away. Cottage Virtual Care offers a live video option or photo uploads to help determine when bug bites may need additional treatments.

With Cottage Virtual Care, a clinical provider is available online from the comfort of anywhere, 24/7, 365 days a year. No insurance is required, and, in most cases, treatment plans are ready in minutes. Check out what common medical conditions we treat and be seen by a clinical provider. Visit cottagehealth.org/virtualcare