pharmacist assisting customer

How to Prevent and Treat Bug Bites

little girl scratching bug bite with mosquitoes flying around her
May 21, 2024

Although bug bites are often harmless, they can cause itching, pain, and swelling, and they can sometimes even spread diseases. During the warmer months, biting insects like mosquitoes, ants, fleas, ticks, horseflies, etc., are much more prevalent, and we tend to spend more time outdoors, putting us at risk of getting bit. To avoid the irritating symptoms and potential for disease from bug bites, it’s important to take steps to prevent them. Keep reading to learn ways to prevent bug bites and how to treat them if you do get bit.

Preventing Bug Bites

While you’re not guaranteed to prevent all bug bites, there are proven ways to repel biting insects and reduce your likelihood of getting bit. To help prevent bug bites, we recommend the following tips:

1. Wear Protective Clothing

If you are heading outdoors at night or will be spending time near areas with bugs, such as dense woods or standing water, you should wear protective clothing to help prevent bug bites. Wear loose pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks, closed shoes, and hats to cover as much exposed skin as possible. For added protection, you can tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants. Avoid wearing florals and bright colors, as these are more likely to attract insects. Stick to light, neutral colors.

2. Use Insect Repellent

father spraying insect repellent on daughter's arm

Insect repellents can protect against mosquitoes, ticks, and other biting insects. Some insect repellents use DEET as the active ingredient. However, insect repellents that contain picaridin instead are equally effective and may be safer than DEET. Picaridin is a chemical found in the group of plants used to produce black pepper, and it can work up to 12 hours to protect against bugs. Ranger Ready Repellent, which we have in stock here at Phipps Pharmacy, is a great insect repellent spray with picaridin that is safe to wear on your clothes and skin.

3. Avoid Perfumes

Many people like to wear perfumes, colognes, and lotions with floral, fruity, or woodsy scents. However, these scents can attract biting insects like mosquitoes. If you are prone to bug bites, you should avoid wearing scented products to reduce your chances of attracting bugs. On the other hand, mosquitoes are also attracted to sweat and body odor. This means keeping yourself clean and dry is important to avoid mosquitoes thinking you’re a tasty snack.

Treating Bug Bites

Even if you take all the precautions to prevent bug bites, they can still happen. Thankfully, most bug bites can safely be treated at home. To relieve itching, swelling, and pain from bug bites, we recommend the following:

1. Wash the Affected Area

man washing hands and arms with soap and water

As soon as you realize you have been bitten by a bug, you should wash the affected area with soap and water. This will remove the saliva or venom that causes a histamine response, resulting in itchiness and swelling. It will also reduce your chances of the bite getting infected. You may find it helpful to dab on a bit of rubbing alcohol, too, to reduce itching and soothe the bite. Just make sure you don’t use too much, as rubbing alcohol can dry out and irritate the skin.

2. Use 911 Relief Spray

Keep a bottle of 911 Relief Spray with you when you spend time outdoors to get immediate relief from bug bites. This fast-acting spray relieves itching, pain, swelling, irritation, and blistering from insect bites such as mosquitoes, ants, fleas, and others. This formula also kills bacteria within just a few minutes of application, which helps to reduce the risk of getting infections from bites. For your convenience, we carry this product at our local pharmacy.

3. Apply an Ice Pack

Applying an ice pack to your bug bites can provide short-term, cooling relief from itching and pain as well as reduce swelling. You can hold the cold compress on for 5 to 15 minutes at a time, and repeat as needed for relief. Make sure you keep a barrier between your skin and the ice, such as a washcloth, to prevent damage to your skin.

4. Take Over-the-Counter Medication

woman applying topical antihistamine to bug bite on arm

There are a number of over-the-counter medications that can help treat bug bites. Oral antihistamines or topical antihistamine creams can provide relief from itching and reduce allergic reactions to bug bites. Hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion can also relieve itching. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help reduce pain and inflammation.

5. Avoid Scratching

One of the most important things to remember when dealing with bug bites is to avoid scratching them, no matter how badly they itch. It’s best to leave the bite alone so it can heal. When you scratch a bug bite, small openings are created in your skin. These openings can let bacteria in to cause an infection. Scratching also causes more inflammation and the release of histamine, which will make the bite itch even more.

Prevent and Treat Bug Bites with the Help of Phipps Pharmacy

Here at Phipps Pharmacy, we have a variety of products and medications in stock to help you prevent and treat irritating bug bites. Whether you’re looking for an effective insect repellent, ice packs, anti-itch creams, or other treatment options, we can help you find what you’re looking for. Stop by Phipps Pharmacy today to get the supplies you need or to ask our knowledgeable staff for advice so you can avoid the discomfort of bug bites this season!