bug bites and stings

How to Prevent and Treat Bug Bites and Stings in Children

Insect stings and bites are common in children, particularly throughout the spring and summer.

Use the following guide to learn how to avoid and treat prevalent insect bites and stings to help ensure the health and safety of your children this summer.

Signs of Bug Bites and Stings

Symptoms of bug bites and stings in children will typically depend on the type of insect and can range from moderate swelling, burning, itchiness, and redness to blisters or anaphylactic reactions. Reactions remaining confined to the area of the sting or bite are generally not severe. More severe signs of a critical anaphylaxis reaction may involve difficulty swallowing, chest and throat pain, low blood pressure, dizziness, hives, and trouble breathing. These symptoms tend to appear within 30 minutes of a bug stinging someone. If your child is displaying any of these symptoms after an insect bite or sting, get medical attention or call 911 for immediate treatment.

How to Avoid Bug Bites and Stings

There are several things you can do to help reduce the risk of your child getting bitten or stung, such as:

  • Apply bug repellent on a regular basis. Most insect repellents that are safe for children contain up to 30% DEET. However, be mindful of the age restrictions on any bug repellent you are thinking about using.
  • Be sure to wash off insect repellent thoroughly when finished outdoors.
  • Don’t use scented cleansers or other scented products on your children as they can attract bugs.
  • Dress your children in light-colored clothing rather than dark attire (which can attract insects).
  • Refrain from going into areas where insects nest.
  • Install door and window screens to block bugs from entering your home.
  • Keep as much of your children’s skin concealed with clothing as feasible.
  • Apply bug repellents to clothing rather than directly on the skin to prevent absorption.

How to Treat Bug Bites and Stings

Most bug bites only result in confined reactions, including swelling, mild discomfort, itching, and redness. After cleaning the bitten area with soap and water, you can apply other remedies on the area to ease your child’s discomfort, such as:

  • An ice compress or cooling pack
  • A topical anti-itch cream, like Hydrocortisone 1% ointment
  • Oral Benadryl

Your child may need antibiotics if the sting gets infected. Seek medical attention if you believe your child’s bite has become infected.