Those pesky critters can sometimes put a damper on a fun outdoor outing. Treating bug bites quickly and effectively can keep your campers comfortable, safe, and happy. Being able to avoid these bug bites altogether can be better yet! Here’s what you need to know for a safe and less itchy camping trip.
If you’re making up your camping checklist, be sure to include bug spray! Most bug repellants will include a ingredient called Diethyltoluamide (“DEET”). DEET repels most insects such as mosquitoes, gnats and ticks. Spray your clothing and exposed skin. For the face area, apply the spray to your hands and wipe your face avoiding your eyes and lips. Do NOT apply bug spray to areas with open cuts or wounds. Most bug sprays are good for 4-8 hours. There are some repellants that have the ingredient “permethrin”. These are for application to clothing only…NOT skin. Read the label carefully. And when applying bug spray to children, make sure to avoid their hands and face…as their hands usually end up in their mouths at some point. Bug spray (prevention) is the one of the best ways of treating bug bites!
If stung or bitten by a mosquito, bee, wasp or spider, first check to see if the stinger is still in the bite area. To remove the stinger, scrape it with the side of a plastic credit card or ID. It’s not wise to use tweezers, as this could squeeze the venom sack that may still be attached to the stinger. Wash the area thoroughly and apply a cold pack (if available) to reduce swelling. Watch the victim carefully for any allergic reaction. Some spider bites will require immediate attention and an antivenin. If the victim has any nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing or swallowing, seek medical immediate attention.
Thankfully, most big bites are a nuisance more than anything. For most adults, little bug bites aren’t an issue. For children, however, their pain will become your pain ;-). Treating bug bites is mainly a comfort issue. Ice packs reduce swelling and pain, but aren’t always readily available when you’re out in the woods. Another effective method is to create a meat tenderizer or baking soda paste and apply it to the area of the sting. This can help reduce the pain and duration of the sting. Create the paste by mixing the powder and water to a spread-able consistency (around 4 parts water to 1 part powder).
Benadryl and other antihistamine creams can also sooth the area.And if really painful, ibuprofen or acetaminophen could help ease the discomfort. If the big bite has a severe allergic reaction, seek medical attention as this could require a steroid shot or further treatment.
Treating bug bites is best done with bug spray and closed tent flaps, but some bites are inevitable. Use the methods above to reduce discomfort and pain and don’t forget to add some of the small items above to your first aid kit.