Ah, summer in Bermuda, a time for all sorts of outdoor activities, from swimming off our shores and playing in our parks to beaching, boating and biking. Being exposed to nature can also expose you to some of its hazards. Here is a survival guide to staying safe while still having fun this summer.
Female mosquitoes feed on blood, and as she is filling herself, she injects saliva into our skin. The proteins in this saliva trigger a mild immune-system reaction, resulting in those itchy, red bumps. In Bermuda, the majority of bites are harmless, although very annoying. To avoid being bitten, we can use insect repellent on areas of skin not covered by clothing; treat outdoor furniture with an insecticide designed for outdoor equipment; wear long sleeves and pants, as well as a wide-brimmed hat when planning to be in an area that may lead to a bite; and reduce the risk of mosquitoes around the area by eliminating standing water. Mosquitoes need water to breed, and by ensuring that water does not collect around your home, you reduce your chances of being bitten.
What to do
Often, the first sign of a bite is a white bump that will appear within minutes. A red, itchy swelling will often develop, sometimes as long as a day or two after being bitten. Occasionally, a person will develop small blisters or a harder reddish-brown bump; others will develop what looks like a bruise. In the majority of cases, itchiness is the only complaint, which can be eased by taking an oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl or Piriton, and applying a cream such as hydrocortisone or calamine lotion. Even a simple cold pack may relieve itching. If you experience increasing pain in the area, fever or swollen lymph nodes, seek treatment from your doctor.
What not to do
Although easier said than done, don’t scratch the bite. Doing so can introduce bacteria into the area, causing a more serious infection. Do not ignore symptoms such as nausea, fever, swollen glands, headache or generalized body aches that may occur. If these symptoms are present, seek immediate medical attention.
Lindo’s pharmacist Rebecca White earned her bachelor of science in pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 16 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.