Everyone is embracing the warm weather and eagerly spending more time outdoors. Unfortunately, with the sun and fun also comes insect bites.

Signs and symptoms of an insect bite result from the injection of venom or other substances into your skin.

The venom triggers an allergic (immune) reaction. The severity of your reaction depends on your sensitivity to the insect venom or substance.

Most reactions are mild, causing little more than an annoying itching or stinging sensation and mild swelling that disappear within a day or so. For mild reactions:

• Move to a safe area to avoid more stings

• Scrape or brush off the stinger with a straight-edged object. Swab the site with disinfectant.

• To reduce pain and swelling, apply ice or a cold pack

• Apply 0.5% or 1 % hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion or a baking soda paste to the bite or sting several times a day until your symptoms subside

• Take an antihistamine containing diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Tylenol Severe Allergy).

Less severe allergic reactions include mild nausea and intestinal cramps, diarrhea or swelling larger than two inches in diameter at the site. Severe reactions may progress rapidly. Seek emergency medical assistance immediately if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms:

• Difficulty breathing

• Swelling of your lips or throat

• Faintness

• Confusion

• Rapid heartbeat

• Hives

• Nausea, cramps and vomiting

After spending time outdoors, it is also important to do a thorough tick check. Ticks like to nestle into tight spots between toes, behind ears or knees, in the groin, armpit, on the neck and along the hair line. Be sure to check children and pets for ticks daily.

If you’ve been bitten by a tick:

• Remove the tick promptly and carefully. Use tweezers to grasp the tick near its head or mouth and pull gently to remove the whole tick without crushing it.

• If possible, seal the tick in a plastic bag and keep it in case you later need to see your health care provider. Otherwise, flush the tick down the toilet or bury it.

• Wash your hands after handling the tick.

• Apply antiseptic to the bite area.

See your healthcare provider if you develop:

• A rash

• A fever

• Muscle aches

• Joint pain and swelling

Following this guidance will help you and your family have a safe and enjoyable summer.

Brian Wariboko is a doctor of family medicine at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Faribault.

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