As the weather heats up, many families will be spending more and more time outside with their children. While fresh air is good for you and your little one, make sure to protect them from the other things that come from being outside. Be prepared to prevent bug bites and sun exposure as the days get longer and you’re able to spend more time outside!
Use a Good Insect Repellent
If your child is going to be outside, the best way to stop insect bites, other than head-to-toe clothing, is to use a good insect repellent. Insect repellent can only be used on children 2 months and older, however, so infants younger than 2 months should be kept inside until they can safely use bug spray. The active ingredient in bug spray is called DEET, and we recommend selecting a repellent that has between a 10 percent and 30 percent DEET content. Not only is it more effective, but it also lasts longer on the skin. Ten percent DEET repellent lasts about two hours before you have to reapply, and the higher the percentage the longer it will last. If your child is outside for an extended period of time, remember to reapply to keep preventing bug bites.
Treating Pesky Mosquito and Fire Ant Bites
The most common threats as far as biting insects here in Texas go are typically mosquitoes and fire ants. Luckily for most people, a couple of these bites aren’t a real issue and will go away fairly quickly. If your child has itching associated with these bites, you can give children’s Benadryl to stop the irritation.
When to Seek Medical Care
If your child experiences abnormal swelling, streaky redness, discoloration, vomiting or fever, your child may be having an allergic reaction to the bite, or the bite could be infected, and it’s important to call your physician for advice. If your child is having trouble breathing, take your child to a hospital immediately. For the most part, parents typically don’t know their child will be allergic to a specific type of insect bite until it happens, so just keep an eye on the bite and your child’s symptoms.
Remember Sun Protection!
If you’re going to be outside, there’s a good chance you’ll be in the sunlight, at least for a portion of the day. Remember that your child’s skin is sensitive and susceptible to sunburn. Make sure you’re using plenty of sunscreen and reapplying it every two hours. While there are some combination sunscreen/insect repellents out there, I don’t recommend using them. Sunscreen typically needs to be reapplied more frequently than insect repellent, so I think it’s best to use them separately. Sunscreen can be used on children 6 months and older. Limit sun exposure for children younger than 6 months by keeping them indoors or making sure they are covered with clothes or an umbrella and a hat.
Dr. Lung is a board-certified pediatrician who cares for her patients at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – The Woodlands. She enjoys caring for children and giving them the tools they need to grow into healthy, young individuals and successful adults.