What to do when you're Bugged by Bugs
If you've ever played outside, chances are you've been bugged by insects or other crawly creatures. Maybe unwelcome ants joined you at a picnic in the park or a bee buzzed around your head while you were playing catch.
None of this may have bothered you — unless you were bitten or stung. Ouch! It's enough to make you stay indoors. But the outdoors can still be a great place to play if you know a little bit more about insects.
Why Do Bugs Bite or Sting?
Insects like bees, wasps, and hornets and other creatures like spiders and scorpions usually attack when they feel like they're in danger. Sometimes they are protecting their territory, web, or nest.
Other insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks, suck blood in order to survive. The female mosquito needs blood so that she can lay her eggs. (The male mosquito does not bite at all!)
Ticks are parasites, which means they live on other animals and need to suck blood to live.
What Are Bug Bites and Stings?
Insects and other bugs can inject venom (say: veh-num) into your skin when they bite or sting you. Usually, venom is like soap in your eyes — it doesn't really hurt you, but it's not very comfortable. It will make a small, itchy bump no bigger than a pea form on your skin. When you scratch, your skin becomes red and more itchy.
A tick bite can cause a red rash that looks a little like a bull's-eye (this may take as long as a week, or even more). In the case of bee stings, the area becomes swollen and a stinger might be left in the skin.
Does It Hurt?
In most cases bug bites are not serious and only hurt for a little while. The itching is the most irritating part of most bites and stings.
Some bites or stings, such as a bite from a scorpion or a black widow spider, may require a trip to the emergency department. But this doesn't happen very often. An adult will know whether this trip is necessary.
What Should You Do?
If anything bites or stings you, make sure you let an adult know. He or she will look at the bite or sting to see what needs to be done.
If a mosquito bites you, try not to scratch. It's hard sometimes, but scratching will make the itch worse and can cause the bite to swell, bleed, or get infected.
If you are stung by a bee, an adult can help you get the stinger out quickly. Have an adult wash the area with soap and water, and apply ice to the sting on and off for the first 24 hours. An antihistamine, which is a type of medicine, can help stop the itching, pain, and swelling. Acetaminophen can also help stop the sting from hurting. Hydrocortisone creams and calamine lotions can be helpful to take away the itch. An adult will decide what medicine is best for you.
If you find a tick on you, don't try to remove it yourself. Get an adult to help you. He or she will grab the tick with tweezers as close to your skin as possible and pull it off in one smooth motion.
Once the tick is removed, save it by storing it in a small container or a sealable plastic bag. Don't try to crush it in your hands. Your doctor may want to see this tick later.
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