What Parents Should Know to Prevent and Deal with Bug Bites
You’re not the only one who enjoys the warm weather.
Mosquitoes, ants, spiders, and stinging insects can quickly turn a fun summer weekend into a less than desirable experience. Trinity Hospital Twin City is bringing information to you and your family to prevent bug bites as well as what to do if they still happen.
You can reduce your risk of itchy, burning symptoms and possible diseases by taking steps to prevent bug bites.
Officials with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggest using EPA-registered insect repellents that contain at least 20% DEET (products like Cutter, Backwoods, and Off! Deep Woods) for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs. Other products that may protect against mosquitoes but not ticks or other bugs include Picaridin, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD), IR3535, or 2-undecanone (methyl nonyl ketone).
- In general, higher percentages of the active ingredient provide longer-lasting protection. However; this increase in protection time maximizes at about 50% DEET.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply it first, let it dry, and then apply repellent. Do not use products containing both sunscreen and repellent.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old. You can protect babies by draping mosquito netting over their carrier or car seat. Netting should have an elastic edge for a tight fit.
- Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children younger than 2 years old.
- Children should not touch repellent. Adults should apply it to their hands and gently spread over the child’s exposed skin.
- Do not apply repellent to children’s hands because they tend to put their hands in their mouths.
- Keep repellent out of the reach of children.
- According to the CDC, some infections, including Zika, can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, so pregnant women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites while traveling and/or avoid areas with Zika outbreaks.
- When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Officials offer a list of EPA-registered insect repellents available. They add that the effectiveness of insect repellents that are not registered with the EPA, including some natural repellents, is not known.
An additional option and layer of protection is to consider using clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) that are treated with permethrin (an insecticide). Experts explain you can buy pre-treated clothes or treat your own clothes, so long as you follow instructions carefully and NEVER use permethrin directly on your skin.
You can also cover exposed skin as much as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants socks, and even hats. Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks for maximum protection.
According to Trinity Hospital Twin City experts, you can also keep clear of areas where bees or other biting insects live and wear clothing to cover arms and legs. Avoid wearing perfume or aftershave and never go out into the woods alone in case you have a reaction.
TREATING BUG BITES
Despite your efforts to prevent bug bites, they still may occur. THTC experts note that most biting insects leave behind red, itching, burning spots on your skin. These ‘bites’ can be treated at home by simply washing with soap and water and applying an over-the-counter anti-itch cream.
Some spider bites, however; can be severe and require emergency care at the hospital. If you are not sure what bit you and you have a reaction that “doesn’t feel right,” go to the Emergency Department for evaluation.
THTC officials note that despite the misconception, most people are not allergic to insect stings. They may assume that they are having an allergic reaction when it is actually a normal sting reaction. Normal reaction symptoms include:
- Pain, swelling, and redness at the sting site.
- Swelling may go beyond the sting site “making it look worse than it really is.”
Officials add that treatment for a mild reaction includes removing jewelry near the site, removing the stinger by scraping (do not squeeze), washing with soap and water, applying antiseptic, using an ice pack to decrease swelling, and taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain (if no allergies to the medications).
THTC experts indicate that “true allergic reactions, called anaphylactic reactions, require immediate medical attention.” Symptoms may include:
- Trouble breathing.
- Hives (red, raised itching spots).
- Swelling of throat and/or face.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Anxious feeling.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Drop in blood pressure.
“Severe reactions are not common, but can lead to death,” officials explain. “People who have had an allergic reaction to a sting have a 60% chance of a similar or worse reaction if stung again.” It is recommended by THTC experts that if you or your child has had an allergic reaction to a sting or bite in the past, that you have a personal ‘Epi Pen’ in the case of another bite or sting. “This medication will usually stop the reaction, but one dose may not be enough, so always go to the Emergency Department for more treatment.”
For a severe reaction, you should call 911 immediately. THTC experts also note that you should try to remain calm to help prevent more poison entering your body. You should also apply a cold compress, and if you have a bee sting kit with an Epi-Pen, use it. Always go to the hospital to follow up and/or receive more treatment.
Following these simple guidelines can help protect you and your loved ones.