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How to NEVER get bitten or stung again (hopefully); Experts share their advice as pests and insects thrive thanks to this summer's heatwave.

Byline: FIONA DUFFY

THE number of horseflies has rocketed in recent weeks as many pests and insects thrive in the heat.

Scarily, visitors to France are being urged to protect themselves against a growing spread of mosquitos carrying the Zika virus and dengue fever.

In Britain, mosquitos don't carry tropical illnesses. But the number of calls to the NHS 111 helpline about insect bites has doubled in comparison to the same time last year, due to the hot weather.

Here is everything you need to know to protect yourself.

BITES AND STINGS ARE DIFFERENT THINGS Dr James Logan, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "A sting comes from the rear end of the insect and involves the injection of venom, while a bite, where the insect injects saliva into the skin, comes from the front.

st . like "They also feel different.

with (A sting often creates an immediate burning sensation and you're usually aware of the insect nearby. Biting insects are often smaller, except horseflies, so are harder to spot.

. the a "The injection of saliva can act both as an anticoagulant to stop your blood from clotting and an anaesthetic, so you don't feel the bite immediately."

. 10 - .WHY DO BUGS BITE AND STING? The short answer is: To survive.

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Bite expert Howard Carter said: "There are two main categories - those that bite to reproduce, such as mosquitos and ticks, and those that sting as a self-defence mechanism, like bees and wasps."

to.

Interestingly, it's only females that bite and sting.

It's way WHY DO SOME PEOPLE GET BITTEN MORE THAN OTHERS? "It's all to do with genes and the way you smell," said Dr Logan. "Some people produce natural repellents in their body odour, which make them less attractive."

Those who produce natural "attractors", such as higher levels of chemicals like lactic acid, can attract mosquitos from a distance of up to 115ft, according to herbalist Dr Chris Etheridge, an adviser to Puressentiel oils.

Studies also show mosquitos are attracted to people with blood group O, a higher metabolism and a higher carbon dioxide production rate.

Dr Etheridge added: "Mosquitos are also attracted to bacteria on your skin, which may explain why they are drawn to ankles and feet, where bacteria can settle. They like sweat and alcohol, too."

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE REACT MORE THAN OTHERS? "When you are bitten or stung, the body's immune system is fired into action - producing a chemical called histamine to help protect the cells from infection," explained Dr Logan.

The histamine causes inflammation and swelling of the skin as the blood vessels expand, which can lead to itchiness.

But how we react is unique and down to our own personal allergic response, according to specialist dermatology nurse Natalie Fisher.

She said: "The more histamine you release in response to the venom or saliva, the greater the reaction at the site of the bite or sting. If you suffer with hayfever, eczema or other allergies, then you are more likely to react to insect bites and stings" Some people may also have a mild allergic reaction to the actual saliva or venom, which can lead to the area becoming swollen, red and painful, Superdrug expert Kathryn Granleese said.

Those with sensitive skin, auto-immune conditions such as Lupus or a history of allergic reactions may also respond more severely. Extreme allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis, can be potentially life-threatening.

Symptoms include weakness caused by a drop in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, dizziness and swelling of the face or neck. If any of these occur, call 999 immediately.

WHY DO SOME BITES OR STINGS TURN NASTY? "The skin's main role is to act as a barrier," said Natalie. "Once the skin is broken from a bite or sting, bacteria can get in and cause complications, such as cellulitis."

Bacteria can come from our own skin, from under fingernails (if we scratch) or even from the insect. And the danger shouldn't be underestimated.

Dr Logan warned: "There are cases of people having to have limbs amputated because of infected bites."

PREVENTING STINGS "Wasps, bees and other insects only ever sting in desperation," said Dave Goulson, professor of biology at the University of Sussex. "They usually land on humans in search of water or to investigate a smell."

If you stay still and calm, they will lose interest and fly away. But if you flap your arms and scream, they may think they are under attack and sting in self-defence.

AND BITES? Cover skin with long sleeves and trousers, especially between dawn and dusk when bugs are more active. Avoid florals, blacks, blues and greens and opt for light-coloured clothing. ? Wear shoes (to avoid standing on bugs).

. ? Avoid strongly perfumed products.

. ? Use air-conditioning or a fan. "Mosquitos have a problem flying in even a slight breeze," said Howard.

. ? Avoid sitting near ponds and paddling pools, which attract bugs. ? Certain body odours draw insects, so wash regularly. ? Wear insect repellent. "The most effective repellents contain DEET," said Kate. "It needs to contain 20 to 50 per cent and should provide protection for up to 12 hours."

However, some people dislike DEET's strong smell and toxicity - and studies also suggest that mosquitos are becoming more tolerant of it.

An alternative option is Icaridin, or picaridin, a synthetic compound thought to equal repellents with 20 per cent DEET. Try Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent (PS8.99, outdoormegastore.co.uk), which claims to be virtually odourless and evaporates quickly after applying.

Don't forget to apply repellent to the ears, wrists and ankles where skin is thinner, with blood vessels closer to the surface.

. ? Prefer natural products? Try lemon eucalyptus (or PMD) repellents. Products include Incognito spray or roll-on (PS8.49, lessmosquito.com) or Avon's So Soft Original Dry Oil spray (PS2.50, avon.uk.com). Although it's primarily a moisturiser, customers - including the Royal Marines - swear by the Avon spray's insect-repelling powers.

TREATING STINGS & bites. ? If the sting has been left behind (it will look like a small splinter), removing it quickly can interrupt the flow of venom. Flick it upwards with one scrape of a fingernail or credit card, advise The Anaphylaxis Campaign charity (anaphylaxis.org.uk). Avoid tweezers or squeezing as this will inject more venom. ? Wash the site with soap and water to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. No water? Carry a travel bottle of Natrasan First Aid antiseptic spray (PS7, natrasanuk.com) for emergencies. ? Apply a cold compress or ice pack for 10 minutes to reduce swelling and ease itching - and elevate the limb if necessary.

. ? Do not scratch. Not only will you spread the injected venom or trigger the production of even more histamine - meaning even more itchiness - but you also risk opening the sting or bite into a wound, increasing the risk of secondary infection, warned Dr James Logan. ? There are remedies to reduce itching, swelling and pain. Anthisan Bite and Sting Cream (20g, PS3.65 from pharmacies and supermarkets) contains a topical antihistamine to reduce pain, swelling and irritation.

It's all to do with genes and the way you smell.

. ? For extreme itching, try crotamiton cream (such as Eurax 30g, PS3.50, boots.com), to numb skin receptors, or hydrocortisone cream (such as Superdrug Hydrocortisone Bite & Sting Relief Cream 10g, PS3.49), which reduces inflammation.

Some people produce natural repellents in

It's all to do with genes and the way you smell. Some people produce natural repellents in their odour

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 19, 2018
Words:1259
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