Posted 7/20/2017 by UHBlog
Summer means outdoor picnics, hiking, camping – and bug bites. Though they may be itchy and annoying, the good news is that bites are not usually serious.
“Normally, they don’t require any sort of medical attention,” says pediatrician Lisa Zipp-Partovi, MD. “Usually your kids can be soothed with simple home remedies.”
If your child is complaining about a bug bite, Dr. Zipp-Partovi recommends taking these six steps:
- Assess the situation. The first thing you should do, she says, is look at the area where your child was bitten. Make sure there isn’t any excess swelling around the bite – or on your child’s lip and tongue area – and that the bite isn’t oozing any pus. Also, ask your child how he or she is feeling.
“People react very differently to bug bites,” Dr. Zipp-Partovi says. “While most bug bites aren't serious, some people do have allergic reactions to them.”
If your child is experiencing excess swelling, hives, difficulty breathing, vomiting and/or nausea, you should seek medical attention right away.
- Scrape off the stinger. If you know your child was stung by a bee, you should try to remove the stinger.
“You don’t want to pull it out with tweezers,” Dr. Zipp-Partovi says. “The best thing to do is try and scrape the stinger out.”
A credit card is a good tool for scraping off the stinger, she suggests.
- Wash off the bite with soap and water. “You want to make sure it doesn’t get infected,” Dr. Zipp-Partovi says.
- Cool off the area. To help soothe the pain and itchiness, put an ice pack or a cold compress on the bite for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Apply a topical ointment. “Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone 1 percent cream can help with the redness and itchiness,” she says.
- Keep an eye on the bite. “If the pain and swelling haven’t gone away after three days, you should get a physician to look at it,” Dr. Zipp-Partovi says.
While it is nearly impossible to prevent all bites, there are ways to reduce risks. Dr. Zipp-Partovi offers these precautionary tips to help your children experience a less itchy summer and fall:
- Keep skin covered. "In Ohio, ticks are pretty common,” Dr. Zipp-Partovi says. “If you are going on a hike or going to a wooded area, I recommend wearing long sleeves and long pants and tucking your child’s pants into their socks.”
After the hike, it’s important to shower right away – and check your child’s body (especially behind the ears) for ticks.
- Use insect repellent. Look for bug spray with a 10 – 30 percent DEET concentration.
“Higher concentrations are not safe for kids, but the lower ones can be used by children ages two months and up,” Dr. Zipp-Partovi says.
- Don’t let your child run barefoot on the grass. Bees and other stinging insects often hover near the ground, Dr. Zipp-Partovi says.
“That’s why it’s important to wear shoes outside,” she says.
Lisa Zipp-Partovi MD, is a pediatrician at University Hospitals Pediatric and Adolescent Health Professionals, Middleburg Heights. You can request an appointment with Dr. Zipp-Partovi or any other doctor online.