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Posts Tagged ‘Bug Bites’

Preventing Bug Bites. By Our Student Pharmacist, Cambree Fillis.

b - Mosquito Image

As the weather gets nicer, everyone enjoys spending more time outdoors–but, so do the bugs! It is important to be mindful of bug bites and their consequences. Bug bites can result in the spread of various diseases including dengue, chikungunya, malaria, Zika, yellow fever, Japanese or tick-borne encephalitis, Lyme disease, and more.

Some of the diseases that are transmitted by bugs can be prevented in several ways. Prophylactic medications and vaccinations are available in some cases. Be sure to talk with your doctor and/or check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website for traveler’s information and specific health risks prior to any extensive travel this summer.

Additionally, staying informed on the prime times for bug bites can prevent illnesses. For instance, mosquito season begins at the start of summer and persists until autumn. Most mosquitoes tend to bite more often during the daytime; however, those carrying Malaria and West Nile are more active after dark, between dawn and dusk. Ticks, on the other hand, may be active during all times in grassy areas and woodlands. Be sure to check for ticks regularly if you spend time outdoors and remove them immediately if spotted.

The best way to remove ticks from pets, children, and yourself includes using a tweezer to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. With even pressure, pull the tick upward. Do not twist. Once the tick is removed, the area should be cleaned with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. The tick should be disposed of in a sealed bag or container, submerged alcohol, or flushed.

Here is an excellent article from the CDC about ticks, tick bites, what various ticks look like, and their removal. Click HERE to view it.

Additional preventative measures to avoid bug bites include keeping homes and businesses air conditioned. Also, empty and clean out anything that holds water at least once a week. If you are traveling and air conditioned sleeping spaces are not available, be sure to sleep with a bed net and stay covered up at all times. Long sleeve shirts should be tucked in to long pants and long pants should be tucked in to socks. Boots are also recommended as opposed to open-toed shoes.

b - Applying Bug Spray Image

Lastly, bug repellents can be used to lessen the risk of illnesses by deterring bugs from biting. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the safe and effective use of bug repellents in the United States.

As approved by the EPA, permethrin, although it should never be applied directly to the skin, can be used to wash and pretreat tents, sleeping bags, and clothing.

Other repellents are approved with the following active ingredients:

  • DEET
  • picaridin
  • oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • IR3535
  • para-menthane-diol
  • 2-undecanone

Each of these ingredients may be applied directly to exposed skin. They should not be applied to skin that is covered by clothing.

Please note that other products may be marketed as bug repellents, but if they do not contain the aforementioned active ingredients, they have not yet been approved by the EPA. The safety and effectiveness of those products are unknown. Approved repellents should be applied and reapplied as directed on the label. They should be used with caution as to avoid accidental ingestion. When applying to your face, spray repellent on your hands first and then rub gently onto your face, avoiding your mouth and eyes. Be sure to avoid applying repellents in areas with an open cut, wound, or irritated skin, as well.

When using insect repellents, the higher the concentration of active ingredients, the longer the duration of protection. For this reason, it is recommended to use at least 20% DEET to prevent mosquito and tick bites. However, in the case of DEET, there is thought to be minimal difference in the extent of protection as concentrations exceed 50%. Additionally, the effectiveness of all products may vary depending on temperature, extent and type of activity you are completing, as well as if you are sweating while doing it.

Additional tips when using insect repellents include to:

  • Wash your hands after every application.
  • Rinse thoroughly with soap and water once returning back indoors.
  • Avoid use in children less than two months old, unless using oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. These should not be used in children younger than three years old.
  • Avoid use of DEET concentrations greater than 30% in children.
  • Apply sunscreen first, let it dry completely, and then apply repellent.
    • You may need to apply sunscreen more frequently if using with a product containing DEET as studies have shown a decrease in sun protection factor (SPF) when combining these products.

Two natural products that we can order and have for you and that we recommend are:


  1. Bonner L. Given CDC report, make sure patients know how to prevent insect bites. Published July 2018. Accessed April 2019. https://www.pharmacytoday.org/article/S1042-0991(18)30931-9/fulltext.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Avoiding Bug Bites. Updated March 2019. Accessed April 2019. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Mosquito Bite Prevention. Published October 2018. Accessed April 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/pdfs/fs_mosquito_bite_prevention_us.pdf.
  4. Mutebi JP, Hawley WA, Brogdon WG. Protection against Mosquitoes, Ticks, & Other Arthropods. Accessed April 2019.
  5. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Find the Repellent that is Right for You. Updated June 2017. Accessed April 2019. https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you.

Creepy, Crawly Critters! Dealing with Bug Bites. By Our June Student Pharmacist, Katy Schafer.

It’s summer! Time for backyard picnics, campfires, and all your favorite outdoor activities. Guess who else likes to be outside? BUGS!! Here are a few tips on different kinds of bug bites and what you can do if you get one.

What to do:

Bee Stings:

  • Move to a safe area to avoid more stings.
  • Try to remain calm and quiet. Movement increases the spread of venom.
  • If the stinger is still in your skin, remove it as quickly as possible.

Spider Bites:

  • Most spider bites are not poisonous!
  • Symptoms are similar to a bee sting and can include red skin, swelling, and pain at the bite site.
  • If you think you’ve been bitten by a spider, move away from the area to avoid being bitten again.

Fire Ants:

  • Get away from the ant mound! Fire ants are very aggressive when they are disturbed and will keep coming until you are far enough away from their mound.
  • Like with bee stings and spider bites, try to remain calm to prevent the spread of the venom.
  • If you have a large number of bites, you could have a severe allergic reaction. It is best to seek medical care if you are repeatedly bitten by fire ants.


  • Most mosquito bites are harmless.
  • If you have travelled to a region where malaria or West Nile virus are common and you are bitten, see a doctor.

For help identifying common bites and what they look like, visit:





  • Apply a cold pack or cloth filled with ice to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Try a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to ease pain from bites or stings.
  • Apply a topical cream to provide itch relief. Creams containing ingredients like hydrocortisone or pramoxine may help pain. Others, such as calamine, can help soothe the itch.
  • Take an antihistamine containing diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to help reduce an allergic reaction.

If you or someone you know has been bitten and is having a severe reaction, call 911 or emergency assistance. Severe reactions will include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of lips or throat
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hives
  • Nausea and vomiting

While waiting for emergency medical assistance to arrive, you should:

  • Check for medications the person might be carrying to treat an allergic reaction, such as an EpiPen or an Auvi-Q device. Administer the drug as directed – this is usually by pressing the device against the person’s thigh and holding it in place for several seconds. Massage the injection area afterwards to help the drug work better.
  • Loosen tight clothing and cover the person with a blanket if you can. Do not give them anything to drink, as swelling in their throat might cause them to choke.
  • Turn the person on their side to prevent choking if they vomit.
  • Begin CPR if there are no signs of breathing, coughing, or movement.

If you have questions about bug bites or what treatment would be best for you, stop on in and we’ll be happy to help! Have a great summer!