When you get outside this summer, you won't be alone. Bugs are everywhere, and a few of them in Minnesota are known to bite or sting.
“In general, I recommend you wash the area with cool water and soap to remove as much of the bug’s saliva as possible,” Dr. Monteiro says. “Then avoid itching by using an ice pack or cold towel.”
Dr. Monteiro also suggests mixing water and baking soda into a paste and applying it to the bite to draw the venom out.
But not all bug bites are the same. Here's a guide to five types of bug bites and stings you may encounter this summer:
These stings typically cause immediate pain, redness, and swelling at the site of the sting. Sharp pain usually subsides in 15 minutes or so. Soreness is typical for a few days after.
Stings can create an allergic reaction. Seek immediate medical attention if a sting causes:
If a sting becomes seriously infected, contact your primary care doctor.
Due to bacteria under finger nails, scratching an itchy bug bite is the most likely way infections begin.
“You can recognize infection by its hallmarks, which include increasing redness, warmth to the touch, pain and pus,” Dr. Monteiro says. “If these symptoms are mild, you can try a topical over-the-counter antibiotic or a topical over-the-counter steroid. If that’s not helpful, you should see your doctor.”
Black flies (buffalo gnats), horse flies and deer flies make small cuts to the skin to feed on your blood. Some typically bite the body or legs, while others target the head and neck. Flies may bite repeatedly.
Bites are painful and felt immediately. Swelling, itchiness, redness, and light bleeding are typical. Black fly bites can lead to swollen lymph nodes.
No biting flies in Minnesota are known to transmit disease, though some deer flies in other parts of the world do.
Seek immediate medical attention if you notice difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips or eyes, or dizziness. Contact your primary care doctor if a fly bite becomes infected.
Mosquitoes bite to feed on blood, but the bites aren't always felt when they occur. For some, blister-like bumps appear moments after being bitten, then a dark, itchy, bruise-like mark develops. For others, a small, itchy, red bump can develop about a day after being bit.
Mosquito bites typically itch and may cause a degree of redness and swelling in children. To relieve discomfort, consider using:
Most mosquito bites go away after a few days without intervention. On rare occasions, however, mosquitoes are known to transmit disease, including West Nile virus. If you have body aches, diarrhea, fever, headaches, nausea, or other symptoms that appear within about two weeks of the bites and seem to be related, contact your primary care doctor.
Most spider bites are misidentified; they're actually bites from other bugs or an unrelated skin irritation. Typical reactions to a true spider bite include swelling, redness, pain, and itching, though some might hardly be noticeable.
Some people have allergic reactions to spider bites. Seek immediate medical attention if a spider bite leads to difficulty breathing or swelling in the face and neck. Proper diagnosis is more likely if you are able to take a picture or capture the spider that bit you, even if it's no longer alive. Do not swat the spider against your skin.
Poisonous spiders are rare in Minnesota. Symptoms of a poisonous spider bite develop within 30 minutes to eight hours and include:
If a spider bite becomes seriously infected, contact your primary care doctor.
When ticks bite, it isn’t typically painful, but it is noticeable. Ticks remain attached to the skin and attempt to crawl underneath. It’s normal for a small bump to develop where you’ve been bitten, but not a rash.
Ticks are small – even as small as a poppy seed – so careful detection is key to removing them and preventing complications.
It’s helpful to have a way to identify what kind of tick bit you, in case you develop an infection. You can photograph the tick before removing it, or place it in a small container and freeze it after removal.
Some ticks are known to carry disease, but not every tick bite requires a trip to the doctor. Dr. Monteiro explains:
“A black legged tick, also known as a deer tick, that has been attached for more than 24 hours is concerning, because these ticks can carry disease. After 24 hours, they’re more likely to transmit Lyme disease. Some studies indicate it could be less than 24 hours, which is why doctors recommend checking your skin for ticks every day. Personally, if I can pull the ticks off before that 24-hour mark, I feel pretty comfortable that I won’t get Lyme disease.”Lyme disease symptoms usually show up three to 30 days after the tick bite. Contact your primary care doctor if:
Ticks tend to be found in areas with tall grass, bushes, and lots of trees and bite only when you brush up against the plants they're climbing. To prevent tick bites:
To visit a Fairview clinic, call 855-FAIRVIEW or pick a Fairview provider and choose from their available times. For HealthEast clinics, call 651-326-CARE.