What's bugging you? Tips to prevent and treat bug bites

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It's that time of year again -- the sun is shining and it's time to spend some much needed time outdoors. But with the warm weather comes pesky pest that may keep you from enjoying your time outside. 

What can I do to keep the bugs away?
Using physical barriers like window screens and netting will help to bugs away, as well as avoiding heavily wooded, bushy and/or grassy areas when possible. Also, cutting back on heavily scented soaps or perfumes and bright colors, which attract bugs and bees, will keep them away. Long sleeves and pants will keep your skin protected -- and if you need to go the extra mile, tuck your pant legs into your socks or shoes. 

►Read More: CDC tips to travelers about prevent bug bites

If you can't stand to be bothered by little critters, be wary of eating outside. Make sure you also cover drinks and garbage cans, and be sure to get rid of any containers with standing water in them -- which are mosquito breeding grounds. 

What kind of insect repellent should I use?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, adults should use an insect repellent that contains 20 to 30-percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing to protect against mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs. Insect repelled containing no more than 10-percent DEET should be used on older children, however eucalyptus oil based products should not be used in children under 3. The Food and Drug Administration says you should not use insect repellent on babies. 

If you're also wearing sunscreen, dermatologist advise you apply the sunscreen first, let it dry and then apply insect repellent. Avoid using sunscreens that claim they contain insect repellent, because sunscreen is typically applied liberally and often times, repellents should be applied sparingly.

You also should not use insect repellent that's meant people on your pets.

►Related: Pets: Natural remedies to treat fleas and ticks

When you go back inside, remember to wash the repellent off your skin with soap and water.

I've been bit -- or stung -- and it's bothering me, what can I do?
Dermatologist say that for painful bites, like a bee sting, you should take over-the-counter pain killers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. To remove a stinger, the FDA says it's best to scrape the stinger away in a side-to-side motion with a straight-edged object, like a credit card. Don't use tweezers, because it may push more venom into the skin. After you've removed the stinger, wash the area with soap and water and apply ice or another cold compress to help reduce any swelling.

►Related: Ticks are back and in full swing across West Michigan

For bites that itch, dermatologist say you should apply an ice pack or an over-the-counter anti-itch cream, such as hydrocortisone. You could also take an over-the-counter oral antihistamine. 

If you experience any signs of allergic reaction, or symptoms of Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever or infection -- you should seek medical attention. 

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

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