By Carolina Boyd
School is out and kids are spending more time outside. However, they aren’t the only ones who like this time of year. Bugs love the warm weather too. Children can be stung or bitten by a wide variety of insects like mosquitoes, fleas, bees, horseflies or ants.
Although stings are unpleasant and can hurt, they are not usually dangerous. Most of the time symptoms can be treated with an over-the-counter itch cream or an antihistamine pill, like the diphenhydramine, Benadryl. Sometimes, the reactions can be more serious. Fortunately, there are ways to keep bugs at bay.
Mosquitoes are common during the summer months. These pesky insects can usually be found near standing water such as in old tires, birdbaths or wading pools. Since mosquitoes can spread diseases like West Nile Virus and malaria, it is a good idea to get rid of any stagnant water and use an insect repellent containing DEET on children older than two months.
Ticks are also well known for spreading diseases. These bloodsuckers—which live in grassy and wooded areas—can spread Lyme disease, West Nile and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It is important to check your kids for ticks after a day spent outdoors. All tick related disease have flu-like symptoms and can cause a circular rash at the site of the bite. Take your child to the doctor if they experience any of these symptoms following a tick bite.
Fire ants are very aggressive and a child who steps into a mound can quickly come under attack. The bites left behind often sting and itch. They can also turn red, swell and fill with pus. Parents should clean the site of the bites and then follow up with an ice pack and/or an antihistamine. If you notice your child has trouble breathing or throat is swelling up, call 9-1-1 since he may be having an allergic reaction.
Bees and wasps are usually found near flowers, shrubs and picnic areas during the summer months. One of their stings can cause immediate pain and swelling. A bee will usually leave a stringer behind, which should be removed from the skin quickly. Wasps do not leave their stingers in the skin so they can sting you more than once. If your child has had an allergic reaction to a bee or wasp sting in the past, talk to their doctor for a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector.
Parents can also help their children become less of a target for insects by dressing kids in light-colors cloths, avoiding the use of scented soaps or lotions, and making sure arms and legs are covered up as much as possible.
If you’re concerned about bug bites, schedule an appointment with your child’s Legacy Community Health provider.