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Family outside in the woods bug bites

How to Avoid and Treat Bug Bites

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Summer usually means more outdoor activity, but summer also means battling bug bites and bee stings. Here are a few tips on avoiding and treating bug bites when they happen to you or your children.

Avoiding bug bites

The best thing to do is to avoid insect bites. Here are a few tips to lower the risk of being bitten by a bug in the first place.

  • Remove any standing water in your backyard as this can attract bugs.
  • Avoid outdoor activities at dusk when mosquitoes are active.
  • Use unscented skin products.
  • Dress in lightweight, long sleeve shirts, pants, closed shoes and socks. Lightweight clothing will protect your skin but also not cause you to get too hot.
  • Avoid swatting and sudden movements when dealing with wasps and bees.

Use an insect repellent, chemical or natural. Insect repellents are safe to use in children two months and above. With children under two months, you'll want to avoid using Deet or any other type of chemical insect repellent.

After a bite or sting

If you're stung by a bee or wasp and can see the stinger, try to remove the stinger by using the edge of a credit card to scrape the skin gently. If it is embedded, it will eventually fall out due to natural skin shedding. Whatever you do, avoid using tweezers or anything to pinch the stinger because that can inject more venom. If you can't see the stinger, the best thing to do is treat the swelling with ice and the itching with an antihistamine like Benadryl.

When dealing with children, be sure to check the child's skin at the end of the day to identify new bites or ticks if they have spent time outside playing. You should remove ticks right away by using tweezers to grasp near the head and pull straight out.

Folk remedies such as applying tobacco or toothpaste to an insect bite might not be the most effective way to get relief. In fact, they may cause skin irritation without having any effect on the bite or sting.

To relieve itching, use a thin layer of 1% hydrocortisone cream two to three times a day. You can also use a dose of Zyrtec or Benadryl if your child breaks out in hives or has severe itching.

To help relieve pain from bites and stings, you can apply a cold pack. It is helpful to apply a cloth to protect the skin and lay the cold pack over the fabric to prevent a freezer burn. You can also use acetaminophen or ibuprofen for more intense pain.

Make an appointment with Dr. James Wayne. Learn more about Pediatrics services at Ochsner Health.

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