Warmer weather brings out insects including mosquitoes, bees, wasps, and ticks. Before venturing into your garden or onto the hiking trail, it is important to keep safety top of mind. Ashley Lisek, an APN with OSF Medical Group, offers bite and sting prevention and treatment tips.
When going into any wooded area Lisek recommends wearing a long sleeve shirt and pants (not shorts) and close-toed shoes to avoid tick bites and minimize mosquito bites; using mosquito sprays; and checking your body for ticks throughout the day. The most important spots to check for ticks include: under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, back of the knees, in and around the hair, and around the waist.
What you wear can and how you smell can also make a difference. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing light-colored clothing when outside to deter biting insects. Experts also recommend applying Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent every time you venture outside.
Additionally, Lisek recommends keeping the fruity fragrances at bay.“Try to eliminate any extra perfumes or lotions that could be sweet or scented in order to avoid attracting them,” she cautions.
The Illinois Department for Health (IDPH) recommends walking in the center of trails so weeds do not brush against you.
The CDC recommends showering within a couple of hours from coming indoors to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses and help wash off unattached ticks. Showering is a good opportunity to do a thorough tick-check.
Common symptoms of a tick-related illness include fever/chills, aches/pains, or a rash.
“If you have a tick on you or you think you have a tick bite, or any kind of bullseye rash starts to develop where you think you could have been bitten by a tick, I recommend you seek emergency treatment,” Lisek said. She added that often people will look online to find out how to remove a tick and find suggestions that won’t help remove a tick or, worse, should not be used.
Some pests are attracted to food. Experts say to discard food far from where you will likely be spending your time outside. If possible, store outdoor household trash cans further away from the house to keep wasps away and deter them from building a nest close to your home.
If you do experience a sting, first wash the site of the sting with soap and water and use ice to stop it from swelling. The severity of the sting can depend on the type of bee or wasp that stung you, in addition to whether you are allergic. While most flying insect stings are easy to treat, some do require immediate medical attention.
“If you get stung and start experiencing any itching or irritation, hives, or swelling that makes you feel like you’re having a hard time swallowing – I would seek emergency treatment because you could be having an allergic reaction,” advises Lisek.
To find an urgent care near you, go to www.osfhealthcare.org. If you or a loved one is experiencing a medical emergency caused by a bite or sting – regardless of being caused by a mosquito, bee, wasp, tick, or even a spider – go to your nearest emergency room or call 911.