Most of us are spending more than the usual amount of time outside these days. As a result, we are having more encounters than we’d like with these unsavory pests.  

1) Mosquitoes:  Obviously the best way to treat mosquitoes is to avoid them. Using insect repellent and/or insect resistant clothing is your first line of defense.  This is the best advice because many diseases are spread by mosquitoes.  If you are bitten, however, you still need to treat the symptoms.  Taking Claritin or similar long acting antihistamines will markedly decrease itch and swelling.  Over-the-counter hydrocortisone two to three times daily is also helpful, and gives you something to do besides scratch.  If you forget and scratch, an antibiotic ointment applied daily may help prevent infection.  

2) Chiggers:  These are little mites that burrow into the skin.  They stick around for a few days and lay eggs before dropping off.  Before going out, make sure you spray your clothes to avoid allowing them access.  If your case is severe, call your physician.  I often recommend a steroid shot and a prescription medication to apply to kill the mites.  

3). Bees, wasps, and fire ants:  These stings often need more than antihistamines and topical steroids.  If swelling increases over several days, it may be a sign of infection. Your dermatologist can provide antibiotics.

Remember, don’t scratch.  Besides increasing the risk of scarring, you increase your risk of infection.