There are several common biting insects that may make your child itchy and cause a bumpy rash. We usually cannot tell by examining you/your child which type of insect is causing the bites and where you/your child is being exposed. Exposure may occur in the home, outside, at the home of a friend or family member, or in other locations where you/your child have either frequent or intermittent exposure.
Bedbugs: Bite areas are often covered by clothing. Bedbugs are difficult to see and live in mattresses, furniture and baseboards. They are difficult to get rid of and usually require the services of a professional exterminator.
Fleas: Commonly infest dogs and cats and can live in carpets and furniture. They like to bite exposed areas, especially the legs. Remember to have household pets seen by your veterinarian and treated for fleas if needed!
Chiggers: Chiggers usually bite during summer and fall and like to live in tall grasses. Bites in the groin area are common.
Mosquitos: Usually bite exposed areas such as arms and legs and are most active at dusk and dawn. They like to live around still waters.
Listed below are tips for keeping biting insects away from your child:
· Avoid wooded areas and areas with standing water, especially at dusk and dawn.
· When outside, use netting or mesh screens over strollers.
· Do not use lotions or products containing perfumes.
· Avoid dressing your child in bright colors or flower print clothes.
· Keep your child covered with long-sleeved shirts and long pants if possible.
· Use topical insect repellents containing DEET when outside. DEET is the most effective product that repels mosquitos, biting flies, chiggers, fleas, and ticks. Examples of products that contain DEET are:
o OFF Skintastic for Children
o OFF Deep Woods DEET
o Sawyer Controlled-Release DEET
Proper use of DEET Products:
1. Apply a small amount of DEET on exposed skin; do not use under clothing.
2. Do not apply more than once a day.
3. Do not use DEET on the hands of young children.
4. Avoid applying to areas around the eyes and mouth.
5. Do not use DEET over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
6. Wash treated skin with soap and water after returning indoors. Wash treated clothing.
7. Avoid spraying DEET products in enclosed areas. Do not use DEET near food.
8. DEET should not be used in children less than 2 months of age
The maximum concentration of DEET recommended for use in children is 30%, this provides approximately 8 hours of protection. Products containing 10% DEET provide about 2 hours of protection.
You should not use products containing both an insect repellent and a sunscreen. Sunscreen needs to be applied more often than insect repellent. Apply the sunscreen product separately !
You may try topical products containing other chemicals, such as picaridin (found in Cutter Advanced and Natrapel products), but they are thought to be less effective than Deet. Other products include: Avon SkinSoSoft, Bug Guard Plus, and OFF Botanical. Products containing citronella are the least effective.
0.5% Permethrin spray products may be used to treat clothing. Permethrin is effective against ticks, ants, biting flies, fleas, chiggers and mosquitos. These products include Sawyer’s Permethrin Clothing Repellent and Sawyer’s Clothing Insect Repellent.
Proper use of Permethrin Products:
1. Do not apply directly to the skin.
2. Do not apply more than once every two weeks.
3. Apply to clothing before getting dressed.
4. You may use these products to treat netting, hats, sleeping bags, and other items.
5. Effectiveness lasts through 6 washes.
You may need to call a professional exterminator if you think there are fleas or bedbugs in your home.
If your child has severe bug bites, the doctor may suggest the following:
· Oral antihistamines (allergy medicines) such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or hydroxyzine (Atarax) for itching
· Cool soaks
· Sarna lotion or Calamine lotion applied 3-4 times per day to oozing areas
· Aveeno oatmeal baths
· Topical hydrocortisone 1% cream (available over the counter) or a prescription topical corticosteroid applied to the affected areas twice daily as needed.