Stings, Bites and Other Itchy Problems

Mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, sharp flies…there’s a long list of bothersome insect life out there. Whether the bites happen in the backyard or on the hiking trail, they can put a crimp in many people’s plans.

Avoiding bites is the best bet, but it can’t always be done. A few tips could reduce the number and frequency of bites. First, check your yard for pools of stagnant water. They can be in old tires, flower pots and mud puddles. If you can, eliminate them completely. If not, make sure the water is treated and can’t allow mosquitoes to copy.

If you have animals; particularly dogs, your yard (and house) could become infested with fleas. We’ve had this experience, and it isn’t easy to deal with. We tried “bug bombs,” and discovered that they only make the fleas angry. The best thing to do is consult a specialist. Some new products that are less toxic are now obtainable.

What you eat can determine how likely you are to get bit. Insects don’t like spicy sweat or blood and tend to avoid it. Eating garlic, marjoram, cayenne and ginger can be useful in inviting the bugs to dine in other places. If you eat a lot of sweets, you may be inviting them to use you as the dining room.

After you’ve been bit, the first thing you will probably desire is relief from the itching. What needs done depends on the insect that did the sharp. Fleas and mosquitoes can usually be helped with a topical application of camphorated oil or tea tree oil. I was told as a child that meat tenderizer helps, but in my experience, it does not.

Chiggers require more effort, and they very well may need a trip to the doctor. The itching is so intense that you may need medication to deal with it. However, when first attacked, paint every bite with nail polish. This will kill the bugs so they don’t continue to bite you.

Bee and other stings don’t itch as much as they hurt. They can also cause swelling or serious allergic reaction. If signs of a serious reaction occurs, get immediate medical help.

One of the first things that need done after a sting is to draw as much of the venom out as possible. My preferred method is a paste of baking soda and water. If that’s not obtainable and a smoker is around, you can do the same thing with tobacco. Make a paste and put it on the sting.

If the sting swells a lot and is painful, there are several home remedies that may help. Soaking in warm epsom’s salt water can be useful, or an oil extract of willow bark. Don’t use the willow if you are allergic to aspirin. Before the tablet, willow was the source of that popular pain reliever and anti-inflammatory.

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