Conquering Mosquito Bites

Ouch! Itch! It’s mosquito (pronounced mus-KEE-toe) season! Mosquitoes are biting insects that feed off the blood of mammals. Once you’re bitten, the nasty bug’s saliva creates a reaction on the skin that makes you itchy.

Those swollen bites can get to be as big as a half dollar or more, and the bites (if scratched) can become infected. Itching can last for several days, with swelling lasting up to seven days.

So what do you do? Prevent and treat.

Protection:
– Use a DEET-containing bug repellant, but make sure that the label states that the product has been approved for use on children. DEET can be toxic, so it’s important to read all instructions and cautions on the label.
– Alternatives to DEET repellants are products that contain lemon eucalyptus or picaridin. Again – read the label and follow all instructions.
– Empty out yard containers and toys that may collect liquid, as mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. You can eliminate their breeding ground by keeping things like buckets, pots, dog dishes and other items empty after watering the lawn or after a rain.
– Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when possible.
– Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, which is at dusk. You can get bitten at any time, but the cooler temperatures after a hot day draw these little blood-suckers out in droves.

Treatment:
Here are a few home care suggestions from SeattleChildrens.org:
– Steroid Cream: To reduce the itching, use 1% hydrocortisone cream (no prescription needed). Apply 4 times a day until the itch is gone. If not available, apply a baking soda paste until you can get some. If neither is available, apply an ice cube in a wet washcloth for 20 minutes.
– Also apply firm, sharp, direct, steady pressure to the bite for 10 seconds to reduce the itch. A fingernail, pen cap, or other object can be used.
– Antihistamine: If the bite is very itchy after local treatment, try an oral antihistamine such as Benadryl (no prescription needed). Sometimes it helps, especially in allergic children. See dosage table.

Painful Insect Bites:
– Rub the bite for 15 to 20 minutes with a cotton ball soaked in a baking soda solution once. This will usually reduce the pain.
– You can also apply an ice cube in a wet washcloth for 20 minutes.
– Give acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain relief. See dosage instructions on the packaging.
– Note- Antihistamines may not help.
– Antibiotic Ointment: If the insect bite has a scab on it and the scab looks infected, apply an antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin 3 times per day (no prescription needed). Cover the scab with a Band-Aid to prevent scratching and spread. Repeat washing the sore, the antibiotic ointment and the Band-Aid 3 times per day until healed. Caution: For spreading infections (redness or red streaks), your child needs to be seen.

Call Your Doctor If:
– Severe pain persists over 2 hours after pain medicine.
– Infected scab doesn’t improve after 48 hours of antibiotic ointment.
– Bite looks infected (new rednesss starts after 48 hours).
– Your child becomes worse.

Disclaimer
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

SOURCES:
http://www.drhull.com/EncyMaster/M/mosquito_bites.html
http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill_injure/bugs/mosquito.html
Photo: www.subeta.net
http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-conditions/symptom-index/insect-bites/