With the end of summer looming, there’s a new urgency to spending time outside. It doesn’t take long, though, to be reminded of one of the main reasons we’ve been holed up in central air for the better part of the last three months: gnats, mosquitoes, ticks, bees, wasps, and the rest of their kinds who can’t seem to grasp the concept of personal space.
In my last post, I discussed some basic ways to prevent and treat a bug bites and stings. For the most part, they’re more of a nuisance than anything to be truly concerned about. But there are some exceptions for a bug bite. To help you know what you should be looking for—and concerned about—here’s a quick reference guide.
When you experience an allergic reaction, your body is basically overreacting to the bug bite’s venom and sending cells to combat it. The process can trigger a range of unsettling symptoms, including:
- Trouble breathing
- Coughing or even choking
- Hives (red bumps on the skin)
- Headache or dizziness
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, or face
Each of these symptoms to a bug bite should be considered potentially dangerous. Allergic reactions to bites and stings can range from mild to severe, but in the extreme cases, it can cause anaphylaxis, a condition with could lead to shock and become life-threatening. So, if you experience any of these, go to the emergency room immediately.
When to see a dermatologist
The vast majority of bites and even stings can be treated pretty easily and effectively at home with topical medication, like hydrocortisone cream or ointment, or an oral antihistamine to relieve the itchiness.
Aside from a potentially allergic reaction, there are instances, however, when you should be checked out by a board-certified dermatologist. For example, if you’ve been bitten by many insects or stung a bunch of times over a very short period, it could turn into something more serious.
And, some mosquitoes and ticks also carry diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease, respectively. While we’ve all been taught to recognize a tick bite by the “bullseye” rash that develops as a result of it, that’s actually only one of a bunch of different kinds of rashes that can be an indication of Lyme. And sometimes there can be no rash at all.
If you start experiencing flu-like symptoms—fatigue, nausea, headache, joint pain—see your dermatologist. They can be another indication of a tick bite too.