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Teens and Bites

Insect bites are a common problem for teens, but many teens do not stop to consider the possible effects of bites. Some bites are harmless and do not require any treatment, but there are life-threatening bites that need to be treated immediately. It is important to take proper precautions against insect bites when camping or spending time outdoors; therefore, learn how to:

  • Protect yourself against bites
  • Identify the signs and symptoms of bites
  • Choose bug spray
  • Watch for swelling
  • Select protective clothing
  • Recognize the symptoms of anaphylactic shock

If you are worried about your health or safety, contact a doctor or medical professional immediately. You could also visit your local emergency for prompt treatment.

Insect Bite Dangers

If you are bitten by an insect, you may not even notice the bite. In some cases, you may experience slight swelling or itching. However, some insect bites are lethal if not treated immediately. Brown recluse and black widow spider bites are two of the most well-known examples. These bites can cause anaphylactic shock, which is a very serious condition that causes swollen lips, difficulty breathing, wheezing and other symptoms. If not treated properly, anaphylactic shock may lead to coma or death.

If you experience anaphylactic shock after an insect bite, it is important to protect yourself in the future when you spend time outdoors. Medscape says that anaphylactic shock recurs in 40 to 60 percent of people, so you should carry an epinephrine pen with you. Epinephrine is a drug that reverses the effects of anaphylactic shock on the blood vessels and airways.

Identifying Bites

Not every bite will result in pain, swelling or itching, but this does not mean there are no health risks. Some bites result in serious effects even if you do not notice them. If you spend time outdoors, you should examine the exposed areas of your skin. If you notice redness or inflammation, clean the affected area and seek medical treatment.


If you notice swelling, you may be experiencing an allergic reaction to an insect bite. The first thing to do is wash the affected area. If you can see the bite, rinse it with peroxide. Keep a close eye on the affected area. If the swelling worsens, or if you develop a rash, it is important to seek medical attention.

Protecting Yourself

Using bug spray is an important way to protect yourself against the many insects that you might encounter outdoors. This is especially important for teens who plan to spend a lot of time outside. Bug spray deters insects, but it does not guarantee that you will not experience any bites. This makes it important to inspect your clothing and skin after you spend time outdoors. Sprays that contain DEET are especially effective for preventing mosquito bites. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends choosing a bug spray that contains 15 to 30 percent DEET.

Wearing the right clothing is also an important part of protecting yourself against bug bites. Any time you spend time outside, you should wear clothes that cover the skin. Even if it is warm outside, you should still wear long-sleeved shirts and pants in wooded areas. This will reduce the chances of getting bitten by a tick or other insect. If you plan to spend time in areas that are known for their insect populations, tuck your pant legs into your socks or boots. This can prevent insects from climbing up your legs. Wearing a hat outdoors is also a good idea. Not only will it protect you from insect bites to the head and face, it will also protect your skin from the sun. Preventing sunburn is important for keeping your skin healthy and reducing the risk of skin cancer.

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