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Insect Bites and Stings and Spider Bites - Prevention

Take the following measures to help prevent bites and stings.

  • Apply insect repellent before going into the woods or other areas where you may come in contact with insects. Use insect repellents according to directions, particularly when applying repellent to children.
  • Apply repellents safely. Some insect repellents can only be safely applied to clothing rather than skin.
    • Use a lower-concentration repellent on children.
    • Do not put repellent on small children's hands, since they often put their hands in their mouths.
    • Wash the insect repellent off with soap and water after returning indoors.
  • Wear light-colored, smooth-finished clothes that cover your body, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Button long sleeves and tuck long pants inside boots. Avoid loose clothes that might entangle a biting or stinging insect. Avoid bright colors. Avoid going barefooted or wearing sandals outdoors. Some outdoor stores may sell clothing treated with a repellant.
  • Avoid wearing perfumed lotions, aftershave, or scented hair products during the warm months.
  • Take positive steps to manage your surroundings.
    • Always close car windows.
    • Do not put your picnic out until you are ready to eat, and repack picnic food as soon as you are finished serving.
    • Avoid flowering plants.
    • If you have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to insect bites or stings, have someone else mow lawns or clip hedges.
  • Avoid swatting at insects or flailing your arms around them. Instead, retreat slowly and calmly when insects act threatening.

Additional measures include those to:

If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to bites or stings in the past:

  • Carry an allergy kit prescribed by a doctor. If you don't have one, talk to your doctor about getting one. Learn how and when to use it, and keep it with you at all times.
  • Wear a medical identification tag to let others know you have an insect allergy.
  • Discuss allergy shots (immunotherapy) with your doctor. Shots may be appropriate to control and prevent your symptoms.
    Allergies: Should I Have Allergy Shots for Insect Sting Allergies?
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 25, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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