Bites and Stings

Bites and Stings

Bugs can be serious pests during summer months, and they also carry risk of infection and disease.  Mosquitos can transmit West Nile virus and other diseases that, in their most severe form, can be deadly. 

Insect repellents containing the chemical DEET are considered to be the most effective at keeping bugs away and can provide protection for three to eight hours, depending on the amount of DEET in the product. However, repellants containing DEET should be used on kids sparingly because DEET can be toxic.  Repellants with 10 to 30 percent concentrations can be used on exposed skin, clothing and shoes, but should not be applied to the face or hands. Also, insect repellant should never be used on infants.

Prime mosquito-biting hours are usually from dusk until dawn, but ticks are out at all times.  If you discover a tick on your child, don’t panic; ticks are easy to remove with a pair of tweezers. Consult a doctor if your child develops symptoms including a rash, fever, body aches, fatigue, headache, stiff neck or disorientation within three weeks following a bite.

Most reactions to insect bites are mild, causing little more than an annoying itch and mild swelling that disappear in a day or so.  Stings from bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets can cause more painful reactions.  To treat stings, first move to a safe area to avoid any more stings. Remove the stinger if it is stuck in the skin and wash with soap and water.

Icing the affected area may help reduce swelling and ease pain.  Pain relievers that are formulated for babies or children can also help, but be sure to follow the dosing instructions on the bottle.  If your child is under the recommended age, call a pediatrician.  Itching may be soothed with a mixture of baking soda and water, or calamine lotion.  An antihistamine formulated for children may also help with swelling and itch, but a pediatrician should be consulted before using an antihistamine on infants or toddlers. 

Call 911 immediately if your child has been bitten or stung and has sudden hives, swelling in the face, difficulty breathing, dizziness or fainting.