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Published July 06, 2009, 12:00 AM

SUMMER BUGS


Home Rx: With small tweezers, get as close as possible to where the insect is attached to the skin and pull straight out. Try not to squeeze the tick’s body too hard or you can actually inject some of its blood into your skin. Wash thoroughly with soap and water.

When to seek professional help: If you develop a headache, muscle soreness, a slight fever and other flulike symptoms up to a month after the tick bite, you may have contracted Lyme disease from a deer tick. Also see your doctor if you develop a distinctive bull’s-eye rash (a red center, surrounded by red rings) or even a disseminated rash on the trunk of your body.

  • Home Rx: With small tweezers, get as close as possible to where the insect is attached to the skin and pull straight out. Try not to squeeze the tick’s body too hard or you can actually inject some of its blood into your skin. Wash thoroughly with soap and water. <br /><br />When to seek professional help: If you develop a headache, muscle soreness, a slight fever and other flulike symptoms up to a month after the tick bite, you may have contracted Lyme disease from a deer tick. Also see your doctor if you develop a distinctive bull’s-eye rash (a red center, surrounded by red rings) or even a disseminated rash on the trunk of your body.
  • Home Rx: Soothe pain with cool compresses soaked in half water/half milk or Burrow’s Solution, a preparation of aluminum acetate dissolved in water. Available at most pharmacies, Burrow’s Solution has soothing and antibacterial properties. Aloe vera-based gels can also help soothe sore, itchy skin.<br /><br />Cool – not ice-cold – baths are good for rehydrating damaged epidermis. There’s no need to add anything to the bathwater, Eidenschink says. “Your skin is irritated enough.”<br /><br />To lessen pain, take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Advil, Tylenol or Aleve. <br /><br />When to seek professional help: If skin blisters or if you develop fever, chills, nausea or other flulike symptoms.
  • Poison ivy<br /><br />Home Rx: The real culprit is urushiol oil, which is released whenever the plant is stepped on or damaged. So learn to recognize it out in the wild with the old rhyme: “Leaflets of three, let it be.” Wear long pants and knee socks when hiking through long grass. You can also contract poison ivy secondhand, especially from your pet’s coat. If you suspect you’ve come in contact with the pesky plant, deactivate the oil by washing the area with pure water as soon as possible, Eidenschink says. (Some soaps can actually spread the oil.) Also remove and wash clothing immediately.<br /><br />Once the rash starts, you can soothe the discomfort with Benadryl or another oral antihistamine. Hydrocortisone cream, Gold Bond cream, calamine lotion or Aveeno oatmeal baths will help control itching. A common misconception is that poison ivy will spread if you scratch it, especially if the liquid inside the blisters is released. People usually notice a less-severe, secondary breakout after a primary flare-up. This secondary breakout isn’t because the rash has spread, Eidenschink says, but because that area may have had a lighter brush with the plant.<br /><br />When to seek professional help: If the rash is widespread, a doctor can prescribe an oral steroid such as Prednisone or topical steroid creams.
  • Mosquito bites<br /><br />Home Rx: Relieve itching with an antihistamine such as Benadryl, Burrow’s Solution or cool packs. According to Parenting magazine, dabbing an aluminum-based antiperspirant on a new bite can dramatically reduce itching and swelling. <br /><br />When to seek professional help: If you experience general flulike symptoms, fever, confusion or any other neurological problems, see a doctor immediately. You could have contracted a vector-borne illness such as West Nile disease.
  • Heat exhaustion/<br /><br />dehydration<br /><br />Home Rx: Heat exhaustion and dehydration are easier to prevent than to treat, Eidenschink says. <br /><br />If it’s hot and humid outside:<br /><br />E Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.<br /><br />E Modify your activity level. <br /><br />E Drink plenty of (non-caffeinated) fluids. <br /><br />E Avoid alcohol, which is a diuretic and makes you less attuned to your body’s distress signals.<br /><br />E Be aware of the danger signals: paleness or flushing, heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, confusion, dizziness, headache, nausea and fainting. The skin may feel cool and moist; the pulse rate will be fast and weak.<br /><br />If heat exhaustion or dehydration are suspected, go immediately into an air-conditioned environment, take a cool shower or bath and drink plenty of electrolyte-balancing fluids, such as fruit juices or sports drinks.<br /><br />When to seek professional help: If heat exhaustion is untreated, it can progress to heat stroke, a medical emergency. If symptoms worsen or last more than one hour, you will need to see a doctor immediately so you can receive intravenous fluids and other treatment as needed, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s “Prevention Guide for Emergencies and Disasters.”
  • Bee/wasp stings<br /><br />Home Rx: Once again, prevention is key. Bees and wasps are attracted to perfumes, scented soaps, sugary drinks, bright colors and boldly patterned clothing. Avoid walking barefoot in vegetation, especially clover and blooming ground covers. <br /><br />If stung, get away from the “scene of the sting” as quickly as possible. Unlike honey bees – which die after one sting – some wasps can release a pheromone that attracts other wasps. If a bee deposits its stinger in your skin, try to remove it as quickly as possible with the edge of a credit card, tweezers or even a fingernail.<br /><br />Wash area thoroughly with soap and water and keep bite covered with an ice pack (place a cloth between the pack and your skin to protect it). Take over-the-counter pain relievers and antihistamines (Claritin, Zyrtec, Benadryl) to control itching and pain.<br /><br />When to seek professional help: If you experience a headache, vomiting, hives, abdominal pain or any type of swelling that affects your breathing, call 911 immediately. <br /><br />You may have a life-threatening allergy that requires an epinephrine injection. Anyone who receives multiple stings at once should also see a physician.