Insect bites can be a real pain from the obvious itching and inflammation, to the dark scars that sometimes appear afterwards. Following is a brief rundown on common insect bites and skin reactions, how to deal with them and how to address aftermath dark spots.
Some Skin Reactions and Conditions That Insect Bites Can Cause
- Itching and mild inflammation.
- Severe itching and pronounced, longer-lasting inflammations. Frequent scratching can result in further inflammation or infection.
- Some mosquitoes carry serious diseases. See a doctor immediately if you show signs of serious infection: fever, chills, sores, etc.
- Sand and animal fleas can cause severe itching and pronounced inflammations (red spots) that last several days to about a month. Sometimes, sand fleas plunge their proboscises into the superficial skin while other times they dig in deeper. This is why with sand fleas, some people only get a few shallow bumps while others get bumps that last for weeks or months.
- Dust mite excrement can cause skin allergies and irritations.
In addition to the discomfort and annoyance, some other concerns associated with insect bites are:
- The spread of serious diseases like dengue and malaria.
- Infections from frequent scratching.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH (dark spots that occur after a skin trauma that are usually difficult to lighten).
What To Do: Prevention and Treatment
- Do not have water plants or pools of still water in your vicinity.
- Use an insect repellent on yourself and/or around your home/workplace.
- Contract a deep-cleaning service to get rid of dust mites and fleas in bedding, sofas, chairs, car seats, and other furniture. You may want to invest in dust mite-resistant pillows and bedding as well.
- Make sure your pets are flea-free. A veterinarian will have appropriate suggestions.
- Immediately: to control itching (less scratching will help lessen infection and scars), disinfect and reduce inflammation by applying Grandma Minnie’s The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm as often as needed to disinfect, soothe, kill microorganisms and speed up healing. Id Sweat Acne and Overall Antibacterial Monolaurin Gel or Kid Gloves Monolaurin Hand Sanitizer can also help and be used as often as necessary.
- For itchy bites, steroid-free Red Better Flare-Up Balm is a great option, or even Red Better Daily Therapy Moisturizer if the itching is mild.
- For sand or animal fleas that are extremely itchy, you may need a more potent topical steroid, in particular, a corticosteroid, such as Dermovate (clobetasol propionate). This would be applied once daily, using a very tiny pat, just on each bump, rubbed in lightly so it disappears into the bump. IMPORTANT: Consult your dermatologist prior to applying any topical steroid. A dermatologist may also decide to prescribe an oral steroid for severe cases. DO NOT SELF MEDICATE.
- Follow with Grandma Minnie’s The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm as often as needed to disinfect, soothe, kill microorganisms and speed up healing.
- NO SCRATCHING! For severe itching, antihistamines such as Xyzal, Telfast, Claritin can help. IMPORTANT: Do not take any of these medicines without first consulting with your physician.
For Babies and Young Children with Severe Sensitivity to Insect Bites
For children that are allergic to insect bites, even long after the bites, the reaction deep in the dermis continues. For these cases, you can try the following suggestions. IMPORTANT: Consult with your pediatrician and dermatologist prior to taking any of these steps with a child.
- ONLY WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN’S GUIDANCE: Iterax Suspension one teaspoon 1x- to 2x-a-day.
- The next time baby is in a place where bites can occur, keep applying water on baby’s skin to keep it cool and to prevent sweating. It has been shown that perspiration, because of the lactic acid, makes insects go bonkers (sweat is very attractive to mosquitos). Or put water in a spray bottle and keep spritz at baby’s skin often.
- If baby does get bitten, immediately apply for no more than 2 days and ONLY WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN’S GUIDANCE: a steroid such as Diprolene. The maximum application would be 2x-a-day for 2 days and only on tiny spots. This is generally safe because it is applied only for 2 days immediately after being bitten and then only on the tiny spots (not spread all over or in large amounts). On top of it, apply Grandma Minnie’s The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm.
- After 2 days, continue with Grandma Minnie’s The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm until the bumps flatten and just look like marks (no mass underneath) on the skin.
Addressing Resulting Dark Spots
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation is a condition wherein the skin darkens in the area that was the site of a previous skin inflammation, such as a rash, pimple, or insect bite. If you have dark spots from the bite, try this regimen. Do it only 2x-a-week at first. VERY slowly, work up to 3x-a-week, then once-every-other-day, then 1x-a-day and finally to 2x-a-day applications (no earlier than week 8 of therapy). STEP 1: Isolate areas to be treated. GOAL: The first thing you want to do is make sure that the surrounding skin is left untreated (to prevent it from lightening). WHAT YOU NEED: Petroleum jelly (The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm works for this while also providing additional disinfection). WHAT TO DO: Prior to any treatment, apply petroleum jelly on the surrounding skin near the dark spots. Make sure not to get any petroleum jelly on the dark spots themselves, just on the surrounding skin. STEP 2: Ensure deeper penetration GOAL: One of the most important factors in therapy for PIH from insect bites is adequate penetration of the active lightening treatment. WHAT YOU NEED: Id Clarifying and Firming Toner and Aftershave. WHAT TO DO: Apply Id Toner just on the dark spots. Id’s beta-hydroxy acid is oil-soluble, meaning it penetrates deeper into the skin where the alpha-hydroxy acids in your active lightening therapy cannot (specifically in the oilier areas of the skin). This helps the active ingredients in Illuminants+ penetrate deeper into the skin. STEP 3: Active Lightening GOAL: Active Lightening. Steps 1 and 2 have helped ensure deeper and more concentrated therapy. WHAT YOU NEED: Illuminants+ Treatment Toner Illuminants+ Treatment Primary Cream WHAT TO DO: Dot the Illuminants Toner (you may want to use a Q-tip) onto just the dark spots. Follow with the Illuminants Primary Cream (again, just on the dark spots) IMPORTANT: GO SLOW. Your skin needs time to adjust to treatment. Do this regimen only 2x-a-week initially, VERY slowly increasing applications to 3x-a-week, then to once every other day, then to once-a-day, then finally to 2x-a-day applications (no earlier than week 8 of therapy). Once you can tolerate 2x-a-day applications, you can move up to Illuminants+ Brilliance Treatment Advanced Cream — if you do, you must re-start from the beginning: once or 2x-a-week applications of the Advanced Cream, slowly moving up to 2x-a-day applications (again, no earlier than week 8 of therapy). STEP 4: Keep Treatment Area Undisturbed GOAL: To further encourage penetration, and keep the treated area undisturbed. WHAT YOU NEED: Plastic cling wrap. WHAT TO DO:
- After applying Illuminants+ on the dark spots, place plastic cling wrap over the area.
- Leave the wrap on overnight.
- When you can tolerate 2x-a-day applications of Illuminants+, you may also use the plastic wrap during the day.
- If you feel uncomfortable with the plastic wrap on for long hours, just leave it on as long as you can (for about 30 minutes to 1 hour) then remove.
- When removing the wrap, you may wash skin as normal. See cleansing information in “Step 5: Sustain” below.
STEP 5: Sustain GOAL: To prevent repigmentation, enhance the lightening therapy, and to keep skin comfortable throughout treatment. WHAT YOU NEED: Illuminants+ Cleansing Cream An Armada Sun and Light Screen WHAT TO DO:
- FOR CLEANSING: Use the Illuminants+ Cleansing Cream to cleanse treated skin every day while undergoing this therapy. This cleanser is pH-adjusted to keep treated skin comfortable throughout therapy.
- TO PROTECT: Apply your choice of an Armada Sun and Light Screen just on the dark spots during the day, and especially when under outdoor sun. Reapply every 2 hours, or after perspiring, water immersion, or toweling off. We recommend total prevention of sun exposure on the treated areas, at least until you start to see some lightening of the dark spots (as a general rule, however, and in keeping with American Academy of Dermatology guidelines, we always recommend sun avoidance).
NOTES ON CLEANSING:
- We recommend the Illuminants+ Cleansing Cream because it is a low pH-cleanser.
- Your skin’s natural pH is neutral at about 5.5. Your active treatment products have low pH levels — which, with proper and continued use, your skin easily adjusts to. If, however, you cleanse the skin with a very high-pH product (like hard soaps), then the skin needs to work excessively to adjust between the two extremes.
- Using a cleanser with a low-pH level helps keep your skin comfortable throughout therapy and helps prevent irritations. When using Illuminants+ Cream Cleanser, do not scrub too hard or too vigorously, and do not scrub any one area of skin for more than 1 to 2 seconds at a time.
NOTES ON PROTECTION
- It is very, very important that you use Armada on the hyperpigmented areas every day, whether or not treatment has been applied on a given day and whether indoors or outdoors. This prevents repigmentation and helps further the lightening process.
- Note that we recommend applying Armada only on the dark spots…this is to prevent the surrounding skin from getting lighter and making the difference in color more pronounced.
- Outdoor sun exposure is not recommended: it may darken the spots further, and may damage the surrounding skin which is not being protected.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can be very difficult to treat. Be patient. If the scars have been around for a long time or are extremely dark, your dermatologist may be able to help further with new phototherapies. Click here for more on dark spots. Click here for more on how hypoallergenicity can help with dark spots. Click here for other skin first aid.