Ask a Doctor: 'How Can I Prevent Scars from Bug Bites and Poison Ivy?'

With the arrival of summer comes more time outdoors, which also means greater risk itchy skin conditions.

Insect bites and stings naturally become more common in warmer weather, which brings out more insects, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Exposure to skin-irritating plants – especially poison ivy – also increases during the summer months.

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As insect bites and conditions like poison ivy become more common, the resulting itching and scratching can wreak havoc on the skin.

To reduce the chance of scabs and scars, Fox News Digital contacted three doctorswho gave their best advice to overcome itching and keep skin healthy.

Insect bites and stings naturally become more common in warmer weather, which brings out more insects, according to the National Institutes of Health. (iStock)

Here's what you need to know.

What causes the itching?

Local skin reactions are caused by an inflammatory response to one or more of the substances injected by the biting insect or secreted by the offending plant or chemical, Mark Loafman, MD, a board-certified family physician with Cook County Health in Chicago, told Fox News digital.

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“This response typically remains localized,” he said.

“But in some cases it can spread and cause a more systemic or more general reaction – either through our bloodstream or, as is the case with poison ivy and poison oak, by inadvertently transferring the substance to other areas with our hands and clothing. to spread. “

What causes scars?

With insect bites or allergic reactions To poison ivy, the bites and rashes themselves typically don't cause a disruption of the skin barrier, but they can cause a lot of inflammation, said Chris G. Adigun, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Dermatology & Laser Center of Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

The inflammation can lead to persistent redness and pigmentation even if the bite or rash is not scratched.

spray mosquito repellent

Wearing protective clothing and using insect repellent, especially during the evening hours, can help prevent skin irritations, experts say. (iStock)

“This discoloration will disappear over time,” she told Fox News Digital.

If the bite or poison ivy is scratched, especially to the point of disrupting the skin barrier and causing bleeding, it will cause a wound that can leave a permanent scar, the doctor warned.

Tips to control the itching

Once you've been bitten or seen signs of poison ivy, experts recommend administering it fast treatment with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory cream, calamine lotion, or 1% hydrocortisone cream.

If over-the-counter creams and gels don't stop the itching, there are other, stronger medications you can try.

“Both poison ivy and insect bites are very itchy, and the sooner the inflammation is calmed, the faster the healing process will proceed,” Lauren Fine, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Fine Dermatology in Chicago, told Fox News Digital.

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“Often, most skin damage is caused by aggressive scratching, which will cause more itching and inflammation.”

If over-the-counter creams and gels don't stop the itching, there are other, stronger medications you can try.

woman scratches arm

Once you are bitten or see signs of poison ivy, experts recommend prompt treatment with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory cream, calamine lotion, or 1% hydrocortisone cream. (iStock)

“Oral antihistamines can help with persistent or recurring itchy skin problems, but be careful with dosage and drug interactions,” says Cook County Health's Loafman.

It is also important to take it into account sun exposureexperts noted.

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Fine recommended applying sunscreen to affected areas and keeping active lesions out of the sun.

To prevent scratching and possible skin damage, she also suggested keeping bites and rashes covered so the temptation to scratch is less.

Exposure to skin-irritating plants – especially poison ivy – increases during the summer months.

Exposure to skin-irritating plants – especially poison ivy – increases during the summer months. (iStock)

Wear and use protective clothing insect repellentespecially during the evening hours, can help prevent skin irritations, Fine said.

For best results, use products that contain active ingredients approved by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

For more health articles, visit www.foxnews/health

You can also contact your doctor or pharmacist for insect repellent suggestions, experts advise.

If extreme itching or skin disorders persist, it is wise to also consult a doctor or dermatologist. Some people are more prone to skin problems than others and may need prescription medications.

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