Coping With Bug Bites
Bug bites may seem like a rite of passage for enjoying the outdoors, but WebMD tells you how to protect yourself and when to take emergency action.
Reality Bites continued...
What are the warning signs of anaphylaxis?
- Itching all over your body. "Some people ignore the itching until they
have difficulty breathing, which is a mistake," says Kelkar.
- Having trouble breathing. According to Kelkar, some people won't have any
itching, so this will be their first warning sign.
- If these symptoms occur, call 911. Taking an antihistamine like Benadryl
can slow the process, but urgent medical attention is essential.
How can you know if you're vulnerable to anaphylaxis? Unfortunately, you
can't. But according to Kelkar, "If you've had a large local reaction,
you're at slightly higher risk." Although a third of the people who get
life-threatening reactions have other allergies, "the
vast majority of people with allergies will never have a serious reaction to an
insect bite," Kelkar points out.
Spiders and the Itsy Bitsy Bite
Most spiders are creepy, scary, and harmless -- their jaws can't even
penetrate human skin. Spiders are not aggressive; in fact, they'll run any
chance they get.
When spiders do bite (if surprised or trapped), they typically cause tiny
wounds with minor reactions. But there are two spiders in North America that
have a dangerous bite.
Black Widow. The female black widow is shiny, with a red
hourglass marking on her belly's underside. If you think you've been bitten by
a black widow spider, seek medical attention immediately. Although it is
extremely poisonous, no one has died from a black widow bite in the U.S. in
more than 10 years.
Brown Recluse. These shy spiders live only in the central
and southern U.S. Their bite can cause a large, serious wound that needs
medical attention. However, "The brown recluse often gets blamed for
causing skin lesions in areas of North America where it doesn't exist,"
says Rick Vetter, an arachnologist with the University of California,
"Usually, when we see people who think they have a spider bite, it's an
unrelated skin infection," adds Rick Spurlock, an emergency room physician
at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
For a spider bite - other than one by a black widow, common sense measures
- Wash the area with antiseptic soap and water, and keep it clean.
- If the wound gets worse, or if you develop severe symptoms, see a
- Use ice packs, over-the-counter pain relievers and antihistamines for