Summer's Not-So-Fun Stuff
Barbara May, R.Ph. - Green Location
Q: The mosquitoes have been really bad this year. My daughter counted 23 bites on her from a recent camping trip. Is there anything we can do to make the bites not itch so much and heal faster?
A: Hydrocortisone creams, calamine lotion, or a homeopathic product like Sssting Stop® will help with itching and irritation. In the future, try applying AfterBite® right after she's been bitten. This lessens the itching and swelling. If needed, oral antihistamines such as Benadryl® can help if the itch is severe. Usually reactions to mosquito bites aren't severe, but mosquitoes can carry serious diseases like West Nile Virus, so if fever, severe headache, nausea and vomiting or other serious symptoms occur, contact your doctor.
Try to plan ahead to prevent mosquito bites. There are a variety of products available to keep mosquitoes at bay, such as a mosquito repellant to spray on your skin and insect
repelling wrist bands for the kids. There is even insect repellant available to spray onto your clothing or clothing that is pre-treated with an insect repellant. Citronella candles may also help to keep mosquitoes out of the area.
Q: Is heat rash anything to be concerned about? I have heard that in most cases it goes away on its own?
A: Heat rash is usually not something to be too concerned about. Heat rash looks like dots or tiny pimples. Also known as Prickly Heat, heat rash usually develops in skin folds or where clothing causes friction. In young children, heat rash can appear on the head, neck, and shoulders. It is caused by blocked sweat glands. Keep the affected area cool and dry.
Cool your body in an air-conditioned room or with a fan, or take a cool shower or bath and let your skin air dry. Once the skin is cool and dry again, don't use any type of oil-based product, which might block your sweat glands.
Heat rash usually resolves itself on its own, but if symptoms are severe or persist longer than a few days, or if there is drainage or a fever, a doctor should be consulted. To prevent heat rash, avoid situations that can lead to excessive sweating, such as hot, humid environments and strenuous physical activity.
Q: Our family hikes a lot in tall grass. What should you do when you discover a tick on yourself or your child?
A: Remove the tick as soon as possible by grasping the tick with tweezers as close to the head as possible, the head is the part of the tick that burrows under the skin. Gently pull the tick straight out with a slow steady motion. Avoid twisting or "unscrewing" the tick as this may separate the head from the body and leave parts of its mouth in the skin. Wash the area and your hands with warm soapy water, or rubbing alcohol. Ticks can carry diseases like Lyme disease, so if a rash or fever develops within a few weeks of the tick bite, see a doctor. Be sure to tell him/her when and where you were when bitten.
To prevent ticks from biting, cover as much of your skin as possible when hiking. Wear a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants with the legs tucked into your socks. Apply an insect repellant before hiking. Also, wear light colored clothing as it is easier to spot a tick on light colored clothing.
Q: My grandmother believed in making a paste of baking soda and water to put on a bee sting? What do you suggest?
A: Baking soda and water paste is a good idea. If the stinger is still in the skin do not try to pull it out with your fingers or tweezers as this will cause more venom to be squeezed from the stinger sac into the skin. Instead, knock out the stinger by scraping the surface of the skin at a 45 degree angle with a credit card, a blunt knife, or long finger nail. Applying ice after a sting can relieve pain and swelling. Oral antihistamines, such as Benadryl®, or hydrocortisone cream can help also. If they experience severe swelling or extreme warmth or redness in the area consult a doctor. If someone is having difficulty breathing after a bee sting they may be having a severe allergic reaction, call 911.
To help avoid bee stings wear light colored clothing. Bees are attracted to brightly colored clothing - particularly floral prints and dark colors. Also, wearing perfume or after-shave may also entice bees to come your way.
Q: Between tree climbing, softball, bike riding, etc. the kids get a lot of bruises. Should you try to treat a bruise or just let it heal on its own?
A: Bruises usually heal on their own without treatment. If possible ice the injured area as soon you can, 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, repeating a few times. After 48 hours, heat can be applied to the area. A homeopathic preparation of Arnica gel, cream, or pellets will sometimes accelerate healing of a bruise.