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Stay itch-free this summer: bug bite tips from local health expert

Use insect repellent with 10 to 30 percent deet. (KRCG)

June is Summer Safety Month, and with the warmer temperature comes the chance for itchy bug bites.

SSM Health Family Nurse Practitioner Betty Wilson said that shouldn't keep you from enjoying the outdoors - as long as you're smart about where you enjoy it.

"Areas that have standing water are more likely to have mosquitos, and areas that have a lot of grass and shrubs are more likely to have ticks," Wilson said.

If you know you're headed somewhere insects like to hang out, Wilson suggested wearing repellent with at least 10 to 30 percent deet and dressing for the occasion.

"Wear light colored clothing, tuck your pants leg into your socks, and wear long sleeves," she said. Wilson said it's also important to check for ticks or other bug bites when you get back inside.

"Check the hair, the hairline, the ears, in the ears, underneath the arms, the knees, and the back of the knees as well," she said. "It should be a full body look-over."

She said if you do find a bug bite: "Keep it clean, and wash it with some warm soapy water. If they're really itchy, try some hydro-cortisone cream."

Wilson said bug bites don't usually merit a visit to the doctor, but there are some that may need medical attention. "If there's any drainage, if it's red, very painful, if it doesn't get better after 3 to 5 days, those are indicators that you might need to have it looked at," she said.

She also advised against self-prescribing an ointment or cream for a bug bite if the medicine was originally meant for a different purpose.

"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't... so unless you're sure that someone has told you to put it on there, just don't use it," she said.

Watch KRCG 13 next Friday at 5 p.m. for our next Family First segment. We'll talk with a health expert about the benefits of celebrating the summer season with fresh produce.

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