Your child’s reaction to a bite or sting will depend on his or her sensitivity to that particular insect’s venom. While most children have only mild reactions, those who are allergic to certain insect venoms can have severe symptoms that require emergency treatment.
In general bites are usually not a serious problem, but in some cases, stings may be. While it is true that most stings (from yellow jackets, wasps and fire ants, for example) may cause pain and localized swelling, severe hypersensitive reactions are possible, although uncommon.
Although insect bites can be irritating, they usually begin to disappear by the next day and do not require a doctor’s treatment. To relieve the itchiness that accompanies mosquito, fly, flea and bedbug bites, apply a cool compress and/or calamine lotion freely on any part of your child’s body except the areas around the eyes and genitals. If your child is stung by a wasp or bee, soak a cloth in cold water and press it over the area of the sting to reduce pain and swelling. Call your pediatrician before using any other treatment, including creams or lotions that contain antihistamines or home remedies. If the itching is severe, the doctor may prescribe oral antihistamines. Continue Reading »
Insect repellents are generally available without a prescription, but they should be used sparingly on infants and young children. In fact, the most common insecticides include DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), which is a chemical not recommended for use in children under two months of age. Do not apply repellents containing DEET more than once a day on older children.
The concentrations of DEET vary significantly from product to product—ranging from less than 10 percent to more than 30 percent (or even higher)—so read the label of any product you purchase. The higher the concentration of DEET, the longer it stays working. Its effectiveness peaks at a concentration of 30 percent, which is also the maximum concentration currently recommended for children.
The safety of DEET does not appear to be related to its level of concentration; therefore, a practical approach is to select the lowest effective concentration for the amount of time your child spends outdoors. You should avoid products that include DEET plus a sunscreen since sunscreen needs to be applied frequently while DEET should only be applied once a day. If you apply DEET more frequently, it can be associated with toxicity. Also be sure to wash off the DEET with soap and water at the end of the day. Continue Reading »