Dermatologists seeing increase in gnat attacks

HOUSTON –  They're everywhere!

“Right now we're seeing a surge in these biting midges,” Dr. Sherry Ingraham said. “Patients are even saying they're getting swarmed!”

Even when you can't see them, they'll find you!

Ingraham, of Advanced Dermatology, said she's averaging five patients a week, like Susie Wilkins, all coming in with welts from gnat bites.

“I was treating it as poison ivy at first and then when it wouldn't go away, I came in and they said it was gnat bites,” Susie Wilkins said.

Wilkins says she was gardening when the nuisances got her. “They just swarm and you don't feel them. They're just irritating and a couple hours later they swell.”

Dr. Ingraham says some people react to gnat bites with this intense swelling and some have a reaction that is similar to hives. Gnats are mostly found in damp, outdoor locations.

“They want to live in the marshy, sandy, soily areas,” Dr. Ingraham said. “They're attracted to the carbon monoxide that we emit as human beings and mammals so they actually tend to bite us more around the mouth, around the nose and I'm seeing a lot of patients with bites on their ears.”

“They've gotten on my ears but they're mostly around the neck area is where they get me,” Wilkins said.

The doctor prescribed a topical steroid for her but says most people can start with over-the-counter treatments.

“Cortaid can help with itching Some individuals need to use an antihistamine like Zyrtec or Benadryl by mouth because they're getting a dermatitis or inflammatory response to those bites,” Ingraham said.

If that doesn’t work, contact your dermatologist.