HEALTH TOPICS TREATMENT TIPS
|INSECT BITES & BUG SAFETY Insect bites are common and most require little medical attention. The immediate reaction after an insect bite is typically a reaction to the saliva and consists of itchiness, swelling and redness. Mosquito and flea bites can first be treated topically. Ice should be applied to the site of the bite to decrease inflammation. Hydrocortisone cream (1.0 % over the counter) can decrease pain and itching. Calamine lotion is also effective. Avoid topical Benadryl cream and use an oral antihistamine to provide the best relief for itching. The dose for Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) elixir (12.5 mg/teaspoon) is 0.5mg for every pound the child weighs. (For example a child weighing 25 pounds should take 12.5 mg. or 1 teaspoon (5 cc's) of liquid Benadryl.) It can be given every 6 hours as needed.
Occasionally, insect bites become infected. Look for increased swelling, red streaking or tenderness, and pain or fever. If you notice any of these symptoms, call for an appointment to see if antibiotics are necessary.
The best treatment is avoidance. Mosquitoes are most common during dawn and dusk and congregate around stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and flower gardens. Other insects, such as ticks may be active all day, and are likely to be found in high grass, leaves and woods. Light colored pants and long sleeves can provide a barrier between insects and your child's skin. Avoid scented soaps, perfumes and hair sprays when outdoors.
Insect repellents are an effective way to prevent insect bites and are safe when used as instructed on the label. Repellents with DEET are effective against most insects including mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. For children ages 2 months - 2 years use products with less than 10% DEET and apply only once daily. For older children concentrations of up to 25% DEET may be applied several times a day. Use the product sparingly when applying any DEET containing repellent. Apply the minimal amount to cover, not soak the skin, and avoid the eyes, mouth or open skin. Avoid combination sunscreen/insect repellent as the sunscreen component may require more frequent applications than is safe.
Picaridin is another chemical found in insect repellent, and is effective against ticks and mosquitoes. It requires more frequent application than DEET, approximately every 4 hours. The concentration levels typically found in Picaridin products are quite safe at 7-15% concentrations.
Citronella oil can prevent mosquito bites, but is ineffective against ticks and most other insects. It requires more frequent applications and is not as effective as other products mentioned above. Other insect repellents such as bracelets and electronic devices are generally not effective.