Flirty dresses, fruity drinks...what's not to love about summer? How about itchy, painful insect stings? New Orleans-based dermatologist Larry Millikan, M.D., explains how to identify and deal with bug bites so you can get back to the beach.
Common insect bites and how to recognize them
The Critter: Mosquito
The Sting: A red, itchy welt that can swell to the size of a quarter
The Fix: You can't instantly erase a skeeter bite. But you can minimize swelling and scarring by swallowing an OTC antihistamine and rubbing calamine lotion over the site a few times a day. Calamine's ingredients -- zinc oxide and ferric oxide -- signal your skin to quit itching.
The Critter: Deer tick
The Sting: A raised, round bite that can develop into a rash shaped like a bull's‑eye
The Fix: Though tick bites rarely cause itching or aches, they can lead to bacterial infections, including Lyme disease. Give yourself a once‑over after walking through grassy, wooded areas. If you spot a tick, a bite, or a growing rash, see your doc (ASAP, if you feel dizzy).
The Critter: Bee, wasp, or hornet
The Sting: A half‑inch reddish bump that stings -- badly
The Fix: Use a cotton swab to apply a basic meat tenderizer (available at any grocery store); enzymes in it can break down bug venom and reduce pain and swelling. Covering the site with hydrocortisone cream can also curb puffiness.