What’s Buggin’ Ya, Texas?
Summer in Texas can come with a side of itchiness. There are many insects and plants that thrive during a Texas summer…and that can leave you scratching non-stop. Chiggers, mosquitoes, fleas and mites can leave you a little itchy (or worse if you are allergic), but other insects, such as ticks, spiders, caterpillars, wasps, and bees can make you quite sick.
When is it time to go to the doctor, and when is it time to whip up your favorite home remedy for the summer itchies? If you have any of the following symptoms, head to the doctor immediately:
- swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat
- trouble breathing
- bulls-eye pattern rash
- rash spreading around a bite or sting
- red streaks coming out of a bite or sting
- extreme swelling near a bite or sting
If you are bitten or stung and have symptoms listed above, try to bring the biting/stinging insect with you to the doctor so that the correct treatment can be determined. This, of course, may not be possible…don’t sweat it if you didn’t carefully preserve the little pest that put you in harm’s way.
If you have more mild symptoms such as itching and mild swelling, there are many methods you can use to make yourself feel better. Standard over-the-counter remedies include Benadryl tablets and cream, calamine lotion, and cortisone cream. Some interesting home remedies you might try (research first!) are a paste made from aspirin and water, a paste made from baking soda and water, and a paste made from tobacco and water. These last three home remedies are designed to draw out venom/poison left by a stinging/biting insect.
To help protect yourself from stings and bites, arrange your clothes to ward protect yourself from ticks, be mindful of hives and nests, and try a repellant that you are comfortable with. Personally, I prefer to avoid chemical insect repellants as much as I can. I found a couple of tips online that I am going to try (I cannot vouch for their effectiveness): mixing lavender oil with fresh rosemary and wearing a little of the concoction, or rubbing a dryer sheet on exposed skin. Your local natural grocer or skin care store should have natural products to try, too, such as Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent or Jason Natural Insect Repellant Spray.
For poisonous plants? Make sure you know what the plants look like so that you can avoid them if possible. How you treat a reaction to them depends on how you react. If you know you react severely, head to your doctor as soon as you begin to show signs of the itchy, oily blisters you can get from poisonous plants. If your reaction is typically mild, you might start with the over-the-counter washes that are available, such as Burt’s Bees Poison Ivy Soap or Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash. Personally, I found that copious amounts of alcohol-based hand sanitizer got me through a bout with poison ivy relatively quickly, painlessly, and inexpensively. My spouse, on the other hand, reacts severely to poison ivy and ends up needing steroid shots to clear the reaction.