Why Do Some People Get Bitten More Than Others?
Researchers have found that your kairomones—the odors your body produces—have a lot to do with how attractive you are to bugs.
“Humans can’t detect these scents, but mosquitoes can identify them from 50 meters away,” Missy Henriksen, the vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, in Fairfax, Va., said.
Mosquitoes tend to like the scents of lactic acid and sweat, which are emitted through the skin, Richard Lampman, a medical entomologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey Prairie Research Institute, in Champaign, said. The type and the amount of odor that you give off are largely determined by genetics, Henriksen said. Other factors that can affect how tasty mosquitoes find you include how much carbon dioxide you exhale and how much-infrared energy (heat) your skin gives off.
What’s the Best Bug Repellent?
“The chemical DEET is the gold standard,” Henriksen said. Some groups have raised health concerns about DEET, but in the more than 50 years that it has been studied, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reported only rare cases of complications with extreme overuse of the chemical. Most experts agree that when used according to the product directions, DEET is safe for adults. (It is not recommended for use on babies under two months old.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend products with the nontoxic chemical picaridin and/or the biopesticide IR3535 (such as Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition SPF 30, $16, avon.com).
Are There More Natural Products That Deter Bugs?
Yes, certain oils may help. A 2002 New England Journal of Medicine study found that all-natural Bite Blocker Xtreme, with soybean oil, may be as effective as chemical-based repellents. Other options include neem oil, which research suggests is a good mosquito repellent, and oil of lemon eucalyptus. Products that contain both can be found at health-food stores. The old standby citronella oil can also keep bugs at bay but to a lesser degree.
What’s Prime Bug-Biting Hour?
It depends on the bug. Mosquitoes tend to be most active around dawn and dusk. (Interesting fact: Only the females bite because they must digest blood to make eggs.) Bees, wasps, and many biting flies are at their peak midday, during the warmest, sunniest hours. Ticks bite any time of the day or night because they’re looking for a meal. Spiders bite only when they feel threatened.
Symptoms: A soft pink or red bump; intense itching; less commonly, hives.
How to treat: Wash with soap and water and use cold compresses to reduce itching. Some swear by a thick paste of water and baking soda; apply to the skin, allow to dry, then brush off.
“There’s no clinical evidence that this works, but it can’t hurt,” Donald V. Belsito, a professor of clinical dermatology at Columbia University, said. If you develop hives, take an antihistamine, such as Benadryl, and then apply an over-the-counter cream with 1 percent hydrocortisone. Avoid scratching; breaking the skin could cause infection.
Good to know: Mosquitoes can transmit a number of diseases. The greatest concern in the United States is the West Nile virus, a potentially serious illness that can cause fever, head and body aches, and vomiting, Robert L. Norris, the chief of the division of emergency medicine at Stanford University, said. If you develop these symptoms 3 to 14 days after a bite, see your doctor.
Bee or Wasp Sting
Symptoms: A red welt on the skin, plus a burning sensation; less commonly, itching, light-headedness, and hives.
How to treat: If you see a stinger, gently remove it by scraping the surface of the skin with the edge of a credit card (this will lift out the stinger). Then clean the skin with soap and water. To control pain, use ice—10 minutes on and 10 minutes off, for up to an hour—and/or take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), such as Advil. If you develop hives, take an antihistamine. For cases that involve severe pain, a doctor may inject the sting with an anesthetic to numb the area temporarily, Belsito said.
Good to know: A small percentage of the population may experience a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Signs of anaphylaxis include swelling of the throat or tongue, difficulty breathing, and nausea. If you develop these symptoms, telephone 911.
Symptoms: Immediate pain at the site of the bite and red bumps that itch.
How to treat: Wash the bite with soap and water. Then apply ice for about 15 minutes at a time, several times a day. Or use an over-the-counter bite-relief product that contains ammonia, such as After Bite ($4 at drugstores), to reduce pain and itching, Roxanne Connelly, an associate professor of entomology at the University of Florida, in Vero Beach, said. Avoid scratching so you don’t break the skin and invite infection.
Good to know: The bites of some flies, including horseflies and deer flies, can bleed. If the bleeding doesn’t stop on its own, see a doctor.
Article Source: Foxnews