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The most common bites, stings, and rashes you’ll encounter at the cottage

Whether you’re a lifelong cottager who loves to gripe about bugs at the lake or a newcomer who’s wondering what to expect in cottage country, you need a game plan for enjoying the weekend when the insects are swarming. It starts with knowledge about which irritants you’ll encounter—from black flies to poison sumac, and it ends with relief from bites, stings, and rashes, thanks to Zax’s Original Bug Bite & Itch Cream. Developed by Canadian pharmacists, it’s formulated with natural ingredients including colloidal oatmeal, tea tree oil, witch hazel, and menthol—all of which help prevent itching, reduce pain, and protect your skin. Apply it early and often to affected areas as soon as bug bite or itching occurs.

Stock it in your cottage medicine cabinet, along with the entire line of Zax’s Original first-aid products, and you’ll be ready for anything this summer.  

Mosquito bites

With their tubular mouthparts and the telltale whine of their wings, mosquitoes are the annoying, bloodthirsty vampires of life at the lake. And while they don’t descend on cottage country in dark, cloud-like swarms the way they do in other parts of Canada, you can still expect to be persistently pestered from May all the way to September, especially between dusk and dawn.

The female mosquito’s bite is a marvel of evolutionary engineering. Once they inject their skin-piercing proboscis to drink blood, they inject an anticoagulant chemical to keep the meal flowing. Proteins in their saliva prompt an immune reaction, resulting in the itchy welts we all know and loathe. For avoiding mosquitoes, repellents with DEET work as advertised, and a strong fan can do wonders—a breeze of more than 15 km/h can keep them grounded. Once the damage is done, wash the bites—chances are you’ll have more than one—with soap and water, and avoid the urge to scratch them. Ice can reduce the swelling, and Zax’s Original Bug Bite & Itch Cream can help relieve the itch.

Blackfly bites

Mosquitoes might be annoying, but blackflies are downright malicious. These tiny powerhouses might be less than half the length of a mosquito, but they pack a powerful punch by biting holes in our skin and injecting a similar itch-inducing anticoagulant. 

In cottage country, you’ll typically encounter them on hot days between May and late June. And once one has acquired you as a target, prepare to spend the afternoon frantically fending it off. Blackfly bites are no less irritating than the bugs themselves, but the same routine of soap, water, ice, and Zax’s Original Bug Bite & Itch Cream can help you ditch the itch.

Deer fly bites

If you thought blackflies were cruel, just wait till you’ve been bitten by a deer fly—or its larger cousin, the horsefly. Mosquitoes inject and blackflies bite, but deer flies slice and dice holes in your skin with twin mandible blades before feasting. In other words, it’s the type of bite whose “Yeouch!” can be heard over the hum of an outboard.

You’ll most often encounter deer flies in the early weeks of summer, and usually right after sunrise or right before sunset. Unfortunately, some repellents are less effective against them, but since they tend to target your head and neck, covering those areas can help keep you sane when you’re being hounded on the water (a favourite feeding spot). Once you’ve been bitten, reach for a paraben-free ointment like Zax’s Original Bug Bite & Itch Cream to soothe the pain, redness, and itchiness.

Biting midges

Ever been sniped by an invisible bug on your deck? It was likely a biting midge, which, while not invisible, can measure about one millimetre in length. These scanty pests, sometimes called “no-see-ums,” leave behind welts that are typically small, red, and itchy, but they can sometimes become swollen and quite painful.

You’ll often see them—or feel their bites, rather—during the dawn and dusk hours of the latter half of summer in cottage country. As with mosquitoes, DEET and a strong breeze (or deck fan) can stave off the damage, but once they’ve had their covert meal, your best bet is to relieve the itch and redness with an effective topical cream.

Poison ivy and sumac

Most cottagers have learned the hard way to detect poison ivy by its bright green colour and three-leaf clusters, because they’ve dealt with the redness, itching, and swelling caused by contact with urushiol, the oily chemical in its leaves. It’s also found in poison sumac, which can be found in wet areas throughout Ontario. Spot them by their red stems with clusters of smooth green leaves with yellowish flowers and flat, grey berries.

Once you’ve come into contact with poison ivy or sumac—or even with clothes that have brushed against them—a cool bath with baking soda can help slightly, but you’ll want to apply an effective, paraben-free ointment like Zax’s Original Bug Bite & Itch Cream.

Is your medicine cabinet ready for summer?

With guests, kids, and even pets to keep safe and comfortable all season, every remote cottager or adventurous road tripper needs to be prepared. An effective cream that uses natural ingredients to soothe bug bites and skin irritations is essential, but you’ll also need additional first-aid products that cover all the basics, from bruises to scars and sore muscles. Check out the whole line of Zax’s Original easy-to-pack first-aid creams, and take advantage of their create-your-own bundle. All products come with a money-back satisfaction guarantee.
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