How to Treat Gnat Bites

Dr. Sherry Ingraham of Advanced Dermatology Houston discusses the rise in pesky gnat bites and how to treat them.


News Reporter: New at 6:00. A gnawing nuisance is on the rise, gnats that don't just buzz around, but also bite. It's a growing problem from the city to the suburbs. Our health reporter, Haley Hernandez is joining us live from a running trail in Katy. Haley, isn't this a time of evening when these gnats show up the most?

Haley Hernandez: Well, yeah, but you know what, we've been getting rain off and on here, and that's when they're really going to come out in these damp, moist environment. I got to tell you that if you're sensitive to these things, they can be annoying anytime of day.

Haley Hernandez: I talked to a local woman who was just out gardening and she ended up with welts that were so itchy she thought it was poison ivy. They're actually bites from gnats. They're everywhere.

Dr. Sherry Ingraham: Now, we're seeing this surge in these biting midges.

Haley Hernandez: Even when you can't see them...

Dr. Sherry Ingraham: Gnats are only one to three millimeters.

Haley Hernandez: ... they'll find you.

Dr. Sherry Ingraham: Patients are even saying they're getting swarmed.

Haley Hernandez: Dr. Sherry Ingraham of Advanced Dermatology says she's averaging five patients a week like Susie Wilkins all coming in with welts like this.

Susie Wilkins: I was treating it for poison ivy at first and then when it wouldn't go clear up, I came in.

Haley Hernandez: Wilkins says she was gardening when the nuisances got her.

Susie Wilkins: Just swarm. You don't feel like then. They're just irritating.

Haley Hernandez: Dr. Ingraham says some people can have this intense swelling or even hive-like response to gnats which are mostly found in damp outdoor locations.

Dr. Sherry Ingraham: Live in the marshy, buggy, sandy, soily areas. They're attracted to the carbon dioxide that we emit as human beings and mammals, so they actually tend to bite us more around the mouth, around the nose.

Susie Wilkins: They've gotten like on my ears, but they're mostly around the neck area.

Haley Hernandez: For Susie, the doctor prescribed a topical steroid but she says most people can start with over-the-counter treatments.

Dr. Sherry Ingraham: Cortaid on them. That can help with the itching. Some individuals need to use an oral antihistamine like Zyrtec or Benadryl by mouth.

Haley Hernandez: If that doesn't work, see a dermatologist. The dermatologist says that your best prevention is trying an insect repellent, although she says that she's not sure these protect as well against gnats as they would mosquitoes. Instead, she suggests that if you're trying to avoid gnat bites, you just got to cover your skin with your clothing. Reporting live near Cinco Ranch, I'm Haley Hernandez KPRC, Channel 2 News.