Bugs of summer: Families can minimize bites and stings

Insects abound in warm and damp weather. Dayton Children’s offers simple tips to keep your family safe and itch-free.

Have you ever been stung by a bee or hornet? How can your family avoid those nasty bites and stings? What are the best treatments and preventative measures for your family? Dayton Children’s Hospital offers advice for managing the most familiar summer pests.

Mosquitoes are the most prevalent and disrupting summer insects. Follow these simple steps to help keep them out of your fun:

Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

Use screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering your home.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you’re outdoors.

Use insect repellents. The most effective and long-lasting ones contain DEET (permethrin or N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). Products with 10 to 30 percent DEET provide about three hours of protection. Experts suggest that it’s acceptable to apply repellents with low concentrations of DEET to infants over two months old. Other guidelines cite that it’s acceptable to use repellents containing DEET on children over 2 years of age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends repellents that contain a chemical called picaridin or the oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Read and follow the directions on the label. Have adults apply to children. Do not apply repellent to your child’s hands — children tend to put their hands in their eyes and mouth.

Re-apply as necessary. Swimming and sweating will require re-applications.

Eliminate mosquito-breeding areas by removing standing water from gutters, old tires, wading pools, tarps, potted plants and other outside buckets and pails. Also, be sure the water in pet dishes and birdbaths is changed regularly.

Bees and wasps always seem to find the picnic as they buzz around in search of something sweet. To avoid stings, stay away from bee or wasp nests, keep sweet-smelling food or drink

covered when you’re eating outdoors, and don’t swat at flying insects. It can irritate them, causing them to sting.

If you or your child is stung, follow these steps:

Remove the stinger. A bee will leave behind a stinger attached to a venom sac. Try to remove it as quickly as possible by gently scraping it out in a sideways motion with a blunt-edged object, such as a credit card or a dull knife.

Wash the area carefully with soap and water two to three times a day until the skin is healed.

Apply a cold pack, or a cold, wet washcloth for a few minutes.

Give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for pain.

“Playing outside is a lot of fun — bugs or no bugs. Fortunately, most bites and stings are relatively harmless,” says Shalini Forbis, MD, pediatrician and Dr. Mom Squad blogger at Dayton Children’s Hospital. “The two greatest risks from most insect stings and bites are an allergic reaction, which rarely may be fatal, and infection — also rare but with potentially serious consequences. Education and supervision are the best preventive measures that parents can take toward protecting their child.”

For more information on bug bites and related illnesses for parents, kids and teens, go online to www.childrensdayton.org.

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