Bugs That Cause Itching

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Save yourself  from the discomfort of an itchy bug bite.
Save yourself from the discomfort of an itchy bug bite. (Image: close up on a mosquito image by Stephen Gibson from Fotolia.com)

Burning, swelling and redness are all symptoms commonly associated with bug bites. However, itching is arguably one of the most annoying symptoms. When a person falls victim to an itch-inducing bug bite, it is difficult to resist the temptation to scratch hard and frequently, which often leads to more itching and irritation. The best way to avoid this cycle is to avoid the bugs.

Fire Ants

Typically found in warmer climates, fire ants are known for swarming and inflicting stings that cause itching and burning. Fire ants bite to anchor themselves, jab a stinger into the victim and inject a toxic venom. They also insert a pheromone that causes other fire ants to attack. The venom causes the burning and itching sensation people associate with a fire ant sting.

To prevent infection, do not scratch a fire ant sting. Instead, immediately wash the area with alcohol and use medicine to reduce itching and burning. A paste of baking soda and water will reduce pain and irritation if applied immediately after you are stung. A white pustule may form the day after the initial sting. However, this will eventually go away.

To avoid fire ant stings, make sure to steer clear and wear rubber gloves and boots powdered with talc when working near the ants. If you feel an ant biting you, quickly brush it away before it has a chance to inject its venom.

Mosquitoes

Most people have experienced the annoying symptoms of a mosquito bite at some time or another. Female mosquitoes bite in order to fuel their bodies for reproduction. It injects its needle under a victim’s skin and uses it to draw blood. The itching, burning and swelling are caused by the body’s response to the bug’s saliva.

Mosquitoes are attracted by dark-colored clothing and the carbon dioxide humans and animals produce. In addition, they may also gravitate towards certain odors, such as perfume, sweat and detergents. If you fall victim to a mosquito bite, treat it with calamine lotion or another topical anti-itch medication. Bites may take several days to heal and stop itching.

Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water. To reduce the number of mosquitoes, remove items that trap water. To prevent mosquito bites, use a repellant that contains DEET, cover up with light-colored clothing when in infested areas and limit your time outdoors at dawn, dusk and early evening.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs feed on the blood of humans and animals and are most active at night. The bugs use an elongated beak to pierce the skin and draw blood from sleeping victims. Bite symptoms can include itchy red welts and swelling, and typically occur around the ankles and areas that are exposed during sleep.

In order to determine whether you have a bed bug infestation, look for signs like the dark spotting and staining of the bug’s excrement around your mattress. Also look for eggs and eggshells, brownish shed skins and reddish blood smears from crushed engorged bugs. Although associated with beds, if allowed to persist, bed bugs can infest other areas of a bedroom and spread to other rooms. Additionally, infestations can also occur in movie theaters, hospitals, office buildings and dorms.

To prevent infestations, avoid curbside furnishings and thoroughly examine thrift items for signs of infestations. When possible, place the items in the dryer on high heat as soon as you bring them home.

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