Bug Bites & Stings

Like it or not, bugs -- from mosquitoes to fire ants -- are as much a part of summer as barbeques and apple pie. Since you can't always avoid the little critters, which insect repellents work best? And what's an itchy kid to do with a mosquito bite the size of Texas?

Citronella candle

Dr Sue Hubbard, a pediatrician on the medical staff at Children's Medical Center Dallas, says insect repellent with DEET up to 30 percent concentration is the best bet, even for kids. However, she reminds parents of young babies who are not yet mobile that mosquito netting is preferable to any insect repellent.


"Products with DEET are definitely the most effective for bug control," said Dr Hubbard. "But stay away from products that combine repellent with sunscreen. You should reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, but using insect repellant that frequently is unnecessary and unsafe." Be sure to read labels and know which products are appropriate for every age.


But what if the bites are already bugging you? Bites and stings can be categorized into two types: ­ itchy or stinging/painful.


While there are many traditional cures and home remedies that families use, here are some first aid treatments that Dr Hubbard recommends:

Itchy insect bites

Fleas, chiggers, bed bugs, mosquitoes, gnats, cone-nose bugs, thrips

  1. Apply firm, sharp, direct, steady pressure to the bite for 10 seconds.
  2. Apply calamine lotion or a baking soda paste.
  3. If the itch is severe, use a non-prescription one percent hydrocortisone cream. Apply four times a day until the itch is less severe, then switch to calamine lotion.
  4. If the bite is still very itchy after local treatment, an oral antihistamine works for highly sensitive or allergic people, including children.
  5. A cool compress or a tepid bath also may relieve irritation.

Stinging/painful bites

Fire ants, wasps, hornets, bees, scorpions, horseflies

  1. Rub the bite for 15 to 20 minutes with a cotton ball soaked in a meat tenderizer solution to relieve pain. Don't use this process near the eye.
  2. If you don¹t have meat tenderizer, use a baking soda solution on a cotton ball. If neither is available, apply an ice cube for 20 minutes.
  3. Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain relief. It's rare that a bug bite will cause serious problems, but seek immediate medical attention if your little one has difficulty breathing or swallowing or slurs his speech. This could be a life-threatening medical emergency called anaphylaxis.

This information was provided by Children's Medical Center Dallas

Recommended for you


Comments on "Tips for getting bugs to buzz off and how to deal with bites and stings"

Gail Howell June 20, 2008 | 8:55 AM

I am surprised that this article doesn't mention permethrin. Many highly regarded health organizations recommend permethrin-treated clothing for insect protection... including the CDC, the FDA, the World Health Organization, Public Health Agency of Canada, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. The Web sites of most of these organizations also feature information about the availability of clothing pre-treated with permethrin. Insect Shield Repellent Apparel is EPA-registered clothing that has been factory treated with permethrin. Insect Shield technology provides effective protection from mosquitoes, ticks, flies, ants, chiggers, and midges through 70 washings, which is much longer-lasting than do-it-yourself permethrin treatments. Effectiveness through 70 washes makes Insect Shield-treated products remarkably cost effective. And, wearing permethrin-treated apparel reduces the need for skin-applied repellents, which is another money-saving feature. Some people hesitate to use topical repellents like DEET, especially on children. The EPA has placed no limitations on the use of Insect Shield apparel. It can be worn by everyone, including children and pregnant women. Gail Howell, Marketing Coordinator, Buzz Off Insect Shield, LLC, Greensboro, NC (336) 272-4157 www.insectshield

+ Add Comment

(required - not published)