Insect Bites

Summer months invite us out of doors for fun and recreation. Many times recreational activities include unwanted pests like mosquitoes, ants, ticks, fleas, bees and bugs of all sorts.

What should you expect when these critters bite you?

Insects bites can cause several different types of reactions. The most common is a localized reaction. Near the bite there will be a raised red bump the size of a small speck to a large welt. Pain may last for a few seconds or minutes.

Often you will notice itching. There may be a small clear blister at the top of the bite. Usually, one bite is present but many can be scattered over the body or several clustered in a group. Examine the entire body thoroughly before calling for advice because certain insects attack specific parts of the body. By knowing where the bite occurred, I can more accurately respond to your questions. Occasionally, the reaction to the bite can be intense, with swelling, redness and warmth extend inches beyond the bite.

Insect bite treatment

Most bites are relatively harmless and if you do nothing, your child will do well. If the area around the bite is not clean, clean it.

Scratching an area that is dirty can promote an infection since scratching can break the skin.

To relieve itching, try over-the-counter ½% hydrocortisone creams. Apply the cream four times a day.

Oral antihistamines help too. Children 20 to 30 pounds should take ½ to 1 tsp. Every four hours as needed for itching. Older children 6 to 12 years should double that dose. If sleepiness interferes with their comfort, reduce the dose. A salve of water and meat tenderizer (like Adolph’s) can help if applied immediately after the bite or sting. I would not use the salve on a cut or scrape. Wash off immediately if burning occurs.

Stronger medications may be needed but may be prescribed after I have seen the insect bite. Infections can appear after a bite is scratched. Persisting irritation, redness, warmth or streaking red lines could be a localized infection. If these features of the bite are noticed, call my office.

Allergic reactions to an insect bite can be serious, even life threatening. These reactions appear almost immediately after the bite. Swelling and itching are followed by a rash that appears over much of the body.