Protecting Kids From Insect Bites

by Amy McCarthy

Summer means more fun time outdoors, but unfortunately it also means that you and your kidsmosquito are more exposed to mosquitos, ants, and other insects that bite and sting. Check out these tips from Boys Town on how you can protect your kids from insect bites, and how to treat them if you do end up with an itchy bite. 

Do not use scented soaps, perfumes or hairsprays on child before going outdoors. These products can attract insects and result in stings. 

Make sure your child has long pants and long sleeves when heading into wooded areas where exposure is more prevalent. Hats are also a great way to protect. It's also good to avoid attracting insects with bold flowery prints and bright colors. 

Use DEET products with a concentration of 5-10% on children older than 2 months. Do not use DEET products on kids younger than 2 months. If you're uncomfortable using DEET, it's worth knowing that it is the only treatment that has been proven to work. Other remedies, like citronella repellents and eucalyptus oil have been used for centuries, but there's no real scientific evidence to back up their effectiveness. 

When applying repellent use your own hands and then rub on the child’s exposed skin.  Avoid child’s hands, eyes and open wounds. Remind little ones to keep their hands out of their mouths, and reapply as indicated on your repellent's label. 

Bathe children after returning indoors and wash all clothing in hot water. Color-safe bleach can be used as an added layer of protection.

It’s also a good idea to reduce the number of mosquitoes in an area by disposing of containers with standing water which provide breeding places for mosquitoes. "Kiddie pools," garbage cans, and other areas with standing water should be avoided or eliminated. 

“To help relieve an itchy insect bite, apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream as needed,” said Dr. Katherine Penny, pediatrician at Boys Town Pediatrics. “If you see signs of infection such as swelling or pus, or if your child develops a fever or flu-like symptoms, contact your child’s pediatrician.”