How to Treat Bug Bites
Experts weigh in on how to treat the suffering inflicted by seven common insects and answer a few truly pest(ering) questions.
Symptoms: A soft pink or red bump; intense itching; less commonly, hives.
How to treat: Wash with soap and water and use cold compresses to reduce itching. Some swear by a thick paste of water and baking soda; apply to the skin, allow to dry, then brush off. “There’s no clinical evidence that this works, but it can’t hurt,” says Donald V. Belsito, a professor of clinical dermatology at Columbia University. If you develop hives, take an antihistamine, such as Benadryl, and then apply an over-the-counter cream with 1 percent hydrocortisone. Avoid scratching; breaking the skin could cause infection.
Good to know: Mosquitoes can transmit a number of diseases. The greatest concern in the United States is the West Nile virus, a potentially serious illness that can cause fever, head and body aches, and vomiting, says Robert L. Norris, the chief of the division of emergency medicine at Stanford University. If you develop these symptoms 3 to 14 days after a bite, see your doctor.