Take the Ouch Out of Bug Bites
During summer children spend more time outdoors and bugs are more active then, too. Using insect repellent is always a good idea. But even then, it's nearly impossible to get through the entire season without your child getting bit, stung or otherwise gnawed on. When that happens, you want to know the best way to quickly relieve pain and itchiness at home.
Bug Bite Treatment
Bug bites from insects like mosquitos, fire ants and spiders spark an inflammatory response in your child's body. The result can be redness, warmth and swelling around the bite along with pain and itchiness.
When treating a bug bite, wash the area with soap and warm water first. Then follow these steps:
- Place a cold compress (e.g. ice pack, bag of frozen vegetables, ice cubes wrapped in a washcloth) directly on the inflamed area to reduce pain and swelling.
- Dry the skin and apply a product with hydrocortisone or lidocaine to relieve discomfort.
- If the bug bite remains itchy and irritated, use calamine lotion or a product with colloidal oatmeal.
- For young children, place a bandage over the bite to discourage scratching, which can lead to infection.
- If your child is old enough, you can also use over-the-counter, oral medications. An oral antihistamine calms the body's inflammatory response and itching and is appropriate for children over age 6. (Note: Use the children's version for ages 6 to 11.)
- For pain, use ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Both come in children's versions for ages 2 and up. Check with your doctor about medications for children under the age of 2.
Wasp & Bee Sting Remedy
Getting stung by a wasp, bee or hornet is painful. For most people, the pain fades within an hour or two. In the meantime, here is what you can do to make your child feel better fast:
- Check to see if the stinger is still in your child's skin. If so, quickly remove it.
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Apply a cold compress to dull the pain.
- Spread a topical cream with hydrocortisone or lidocaine on the wound to relieve pain.
- You can also use an oral, over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for children who are old enough. Both come in children's versions for kids ages 2 to 11. (Ask your doctor about medications for children under 2 years of age.)
Signs of an Allergic Reaction
For the vast majority of kids, insect stings cause nothing more than temporary pain. But for some, getting stung can trigger anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Signs that your child needs emergency care include:
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramping, nausea or vomiting
- Chest discomfort or tightness
- Rapid heart beat
- Difficulty breathing
- Coughing, wheezing or high-pitched breathing sounds
- Difficulty swallowing
- Slurred speech
- Swelling of the lips, eyelids or throat
Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency medicine hospital if you see signs of anaphylaxis.
When to See a Doctor
While mild to moderate reactions to bug bites and stings can be taken care of at home, there are cases that require medical attention. If your child has scratched the wound open and it looks infected, you should see a doctor. Signs of infection include spreading redness, warmth and swelling.
Also, some diseases can be transmitted through insect bites. See a doctor if your child develops a rash, fever or flu-like symptoms after getting bitten.
With bug repellent on hand, an ice pack and some medicine, you’ll be armed and ready to make sure pests don't run your child's sweet, summer days.
Keep up to date on our news and blogs for more tips on how you can care for you and your family's health this summer.