Everyone spends more time outdoors during the summer months, including the bugs. Most of the time, an insect bite or sting causes temporary discomfort, and most reactions are mild.

After an insect bite, some itching or stinging and mild swelling is common. On occasion, an insect bite may cause a serious allergic reaction, or infection that requires immediate medical attention.

BEES, WASPS AND SPIDERS – OH MY!

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If your child is stung by a bee or a wasp look to see if there’s a stinger in place. Note that a bumblebee will leave the stinger, whereas a yellow jacket or wasp will not. The most effective way to remove a stinger is to get the back of a blunt knife; drag it across the skin where the stinger is.  Do not use tweezers or use fingers, or you will re-inject the venom, thereby causing much more local and possibly systemic bite symptoms.

If your child is bitten by a spider, note that in this area, most spiders are pretty innocuous. After a spider bite there may be some localized redness. Apply a topical cortisone cream after cleaning the area with soap and water. Look for signs of infection over the next 2 or 3 days.

Travelers should be aware that the southern states have two particular spiders that are dangerous: the Black Widow spider and the Brown Recluse spider.

These spiders will cause significant symptoms such as fever, listlessness, even life-threatening infections. In the event of a bite from either of these spiders, clean the area off immediately. Apply a tourniquet beneath the area of the bite to reduce the spread of the venom, and bring your child to the local emergency room or call 911.

TICK ATTACK

If your child is bitten by a tick, the first thing to do is remove it, but remove it properly. Get a set of fine tweezers, go right to where the tick fangs are imbedded in the skin, and yank it off.

Do not use rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, or a match. These things will cause the tick to pour in more of the bacteria and increase the risk of Lyme disease.

SIGNS OF ALLERGIC REACTION

The signs of a child’s serious allergic reaction to a sting are systemic – it will affect the whole body. Look for these signs:

·         Hives

·         Swollen face

·         Swollen lips and tongue.

·         Difficulty swallowing

·         Shortness of breath

 

These are life-threatening symptoms and you need to call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

BUG OFF

There are two ways to prevent your child from getting bit or stung this summer. The first is avoidance, and the second is repellents.

Avoid putting scented lotions on your child, avoiding clothing in very bright colors, and teach your child not to play in or around flower beds. If you notice any bees’ hives or hornets’ nests in your yard, remove them.

To repel insects, you need repellants with chemicals. Products containting Permethrin can be safely sprayed onto clothing and shoes. Products containing DEET can be sprayed directly on the skin. Remember DEET can be neurotoxic, so at the end of the day, shower off the chemicals.