DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN BUGS BITE?
Small creatures can cause major irritations. Learn what happens when a flying insect makes a meal out of you.
Before the bite
- You're swatting like crazy, but your body heat and the carbon dioxide in your breath are luring critters—mosquitoes, gnats, other biting flies—toward you, from as far away as 150 feet.
- Hanging with your favorite pet? They can unleash more heat and CO2, making them bug magnets. However, they have more protective body hair, prompting biters to hop over to your smooth skin.
During the bite
- The insect lands and starts probing for a thin-skinned area, preferably one close to a blood vessel.
- You may or may not feel the bite. The mosquito in particular is a stealth offender: It can break your skin and inject numbing saliva before sucking blood. By the time you feel a prick, she (yep, only female mosquitoes bite) is likely done feeding.
- Your body has ID'd the bug's saliva as a foreign invader. Lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, rush to the scene to kill it off, a process that causes itching and swelling. Don't scratch, you'll only make things worse by aggravating newly sensitized nerves.
In a few hours
Insect saliva can stick around for hours (more itching). Your best bet is to ignore it.
The next morning
Every person has a different post-bite reaction. If you're lucky, your itching has subsided, though the bite may still look inflamed.
If however, you're super-sensitive, you may wake with a welt up to five inches wide. It's probably a sign you're allergic and that your immune system has released an army of antibody special forces. Nasty-looking? Yes. Dangerous? Probably not. Apply an ice pack and take an antihistamine.
Two or three days later
Chances are, those white-blood-cell soldiers have done their job and left the scene. Your bite mark may be gone or may slowly fade after a few more days. (If you feel any flu-like symptoms, including headaches or nausea, see your M.D. to rule out an insect-related infection like West Nile Virus.)
Headed out again? Wearing light-colored clothes can fend off biters by confusing their field of vision. Or, try using Dr. Cole's NEW Herbal Insect Repellent Stick. (See below.)
More insect solutions in next week's newsletter.
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