The Itch of a biting insect: How do I protect my child from them?

With the hot wet days and nights of summer come the biting insects, especially in those early evening hours when eating outdoors and enjoying the gentle weather of a summer evening.

Children are at risk for multiple types of insect bites; biting flies,  mosquitoes, and ticks to name a few. The best way to protect your child from these pesky critters is to apply a repellent containing DEET.

According to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) DEET remains themost effective in repelling these biting insects. It can safely be applied by an adult to the children’s clothing and exposed skin.

Application of the product is best done in an open area. DO NOT spray this directly onto the child’s head and face, instead spray into the adult’s hand and rub onto the face/ears/neck avoiding contact with the eyes.  Follow directions on timing for re-application typically anywhere from 2 to 5 hours depending on the concentration of DEET in the repellant being used.

A common question heard can be: Is it safe for my young child?

The answer is simply:  Yes.  A repellent containing DEET of no more than 30% is safe for application to an infant older than 2 months of age when safely applied by a responsible adult.  Remember to always wash the child’s skin at the end of the day to remove the product to avoid irritation and wash their clothing.

Avoid use of scented lotions/fabric softeners/detergents as these can attract those pests more.  Dressing a child in floral prints and bright colors also can attract the pests.  It’s a good idea to protect the child’s head/ears by having them wear a hat with a wide brim.  Using mosquito netting around strollers and those portable cribs also can help protect the child from those pesky flying insects.   Avoiding stagnant water is a good idea as these are frequently breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

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Despite your best efforts your child ends up with an itchy bite, what next?

There are many over the counter products designed for this. Some good options to use are: a topical cream such as Calamine Lotion, Hydrocortisone Cream, or Benadryl Cream.  Another simple product is to mix baking soda and water into a paste and apply to the bite.

Remember if ever there is a question your Pediatrician is just a phone call away.  🙂

Enjoy your summer stay safe and protected!!

Daniel Moorman, MD

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