Mosquitoes, scabies, head lice, and bedbugs are pesky critters that can cause big problems. The days of accepting mosquito bites as a small price to pay for a fishing or camping trip are gone thanks to such viruses as West Nile and encephalitis. Scabies and head lice are prevalent and are becoming resistant to standard treatments. Bedbugs hitch rides on luggage and furniture to become unwelcome house guests. Since bugs are serious business, here’s a quick treatment summary regarding each.
- Mosquito repellant products containing DEET and/or picaridin are commonly available and effective. Permethrin-treated clothes are also beneficial. Once bitten, antihistamines, such as topical or oral Benadryl or corticosteroids, mitigate symptoms and speed healing.
- Scabies, a contagious skin infection caused by mites, is easily spread by casual contact. It presents with clusters of tiny, intensely itchy (especially at night) bumps on the hands, wrists, and body folds. Topical permethrin is the preferred treatment and eliminates most infestations, but it's important to treat every member of the household as well as other close contacts to prevent "ping-ponging" the mites back and forth.
- Head lice, the nightmare of parents and teachers, are evidenced by nits (the louse’s eggs) attached to the hair shafts. Treatment involves a pesticide lotion or cream rinse, often repeatedly, plus careful removal of nits.
- Bedbugs can be deceptive invaders that are frequently misdiagnosed as another skin condition or infestation. But these predators, which are like tiny vampires, don't reside in or on skin. They attack at night as the victim slumbers, often leaving behind tiny spots of blood and droppings on sheets. The treatment is straightforward—a professional exterminator.