Protecting from bites
Concerning Your Health
Dr. Christinia daSilva
How can we protect our children from bug bites in the summer?
Avoid the areas in the yard where insects are likely to hover, such as around garbage cans, long grass, stagnant water, flowers in bloo, and food or sodas setting outdoors. Don’t use scented soaps or other scented products on your children because that draws insects. To keep bugs from getting inside, use screens on windows and doors. Be sure there are no holes in them.
Are insect repellants safe for children?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, products containing up to 30 percent DEET can be used on children six months of age and older. Repellants shouldn’t be used more than once a day. Avoid using any products that combine sunscreen and insect repellant because sunscreen should be applied more frequently. Women who are pregnant and/or nursing should use DEET products minimally.
How should insect repellant be applied?
To apply repellant safely on a child, put it on your hands and rub it on the child’s skin. Use spray products only on clothing. Do not apply repellant to face or skin areas that are irritated or where the child already has cuts or scratches on the skin. If a child gets repellant in his/her eyes, flush the eyes immediately with cold water. When children come inside, wash their skin with soap to remove the repellant.
How should I treat my child’s insect bites?
Bites from mosquitoes, flies, fleas, bees and hornets can be irritating and painful but they rarely require medical treatment. Many children will have a local reaction, which includes swelling and redness, following the insect bite. To reduce swelling, soak a cloth in cold water and press it on the area or apply ice for 10 minutes at a time. Pain relievers and antihistamines can offer relief; use those formulated for babies or children and call your doctor for help with dosing. To decrease itching, try calamine lotion or mix baking soda with water and apply a paste to the inflamed area. Honeybees leave a stinger in the skin. Remove the stinger with a credit card. Try not to pinch it because doing so can cause more venom to be injected.
When do bites require a doctor’s attention?
Some children who are allergic to certain insect venoms can have severe symptoms that require emergency treatment. Seek medical help immediately if a child is bitten or stung and has difficulty breathing, becomes weak or unconscious, breaks out in hives or itches all over his or her body or has swelling that interferes with the child’s ability to see, eat or urinate. If an area where the child has been bitten keeps getting larger, very red in color or begins oozing, this is a sign of infection. Make an appointment with your pediatrician.
Christina daSilva, DO, is a pediatrician at Sanford Children’s Downtown Clinic in Bismarck. She is originally from Bismarck. Dr. daSilva received an undergraduate degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and a medical degree at Des Moines University in Iowa. She completed her pediatric residency training at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.