Camping First Aid and Safety

Prevent and Treat Bug Bites in Kids with Ease

Red bug bites on child's legs

Bug bites happen. They’re itchy, annoying, and can cause little extremities to get nice and puffy. But what if our kids didn’t get bitten by bugs at all? Or what if there were things you could do immediately following a bug bite to make it more bearable (for you and your kid)? You’re in the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about how to prevent and treat bug bites in kids.

Prevent Bug Bites in Kids

Wear Bug Spray

I know that sounds ridiculous- everyone knows you should use bug spray to prevent bug bites. But what I really mean is wear bug spray that actually works.

There have been loads of scientific tests on bug spray ingredients and products with either 25-30% DEET or 20% Picardin are consistently at the top of the charts for effectiveness.

Check out more about the best bug sprays for kids and the best bug sprays for infants and toddlers.

Apply Bug Spray Correctly

Again, I know it sounds ridiculous. But there actually is a method for applying insect repellant to children.

  • Apply repellent only to exposed skin or clothing (as directed on the product label). Never put it on under clothing.
  • Use just enough to cover and only for as long as needed; heavier doses don’t work better and can increase risks.
  • Don’t apply repellents over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
  • Don’t let young children apply themselves. Instead, put it on your hands, then rub it on. Limit use on children’s hands because they often put their hands in their eyes and mouths.
  • Don’t use near food, and wash your children’s hands before they eat or drink.

Red bug bites on child's legs

Treat Bug Bites in Kids

You did your best to prevent bug bites, but your kid got one anyway. Now what? Here’s what you need to do to treat bug bites in kids.

Encourage them NOT TO ITCH

Easier said than done, I know. Itching bug bites can just make the site of the bite redder and can cause an open wound. Not good.

We all know kids will probably itch the bites anyway, but you can help distract them by:

  1. Placing an ice pack on the sting. This will also help any inflammation. The body can’t process an itch sensation and a cold sensation at the same time, so the itch will go away!
  2. Hydrocortisone or Benadryl Cream either one will work to decrease the itching sensation. Just be careful, if your kiddo itches the bite after you’ve applied a cream, make them wash their hands. Kids are notorious for sticking their hands/fingers in their mouths and we don’t want them ingesting an anti-itch cream.

Remove the Stinger

If your child was bitten or stung by an insect with a stinger, you need to locate the stinger and remove it immediately. The longer a stinger is in the child’s skin, the worse the reaction will be. Learn all about removing stingers.

Draw a Circle

If the site of the bite appears to be getting larger or puffier, use a permanent marker to draw a circle around the bite and then write the time on the border of the circle. If the impacted area continues to grow, draw a new circle around the expanded area and again note the time.

Give an Oral Anti- Histamine

Medications like Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec are all anti-histamines and can work to help slow or stop your child’s reaction to a bug bite. Chat with a pharmacist or your pediatrician before giving an oral medication though as some anti-histamines are not for use in younger children.

When to Go to the Doctor

  • If the bug bite keeps getting larger despite interventions like medicine, ice, etc. You need to go to the doctor.
  • You should also head to the ER or urgent care immediately if you notice any red streaking going from the bite site toward your child’s heart.
  • If your child starts having trouble breathing or gets extremely lethargic, head to the doctor immediately.
  • Be aware of the signs of an anaphylactic reaction. Some public places are able to keep epi-pens on hand. So if you’re at an amusement park, etc, you should get assistance from their medical team immediately.

The next time you’re dealing with a bug bite, I hope you remember these simple ways to prevent and treat bug bites in kids! Make sure you sign-up for my email list and snag the first aid cheatsheets!

Red bug bites on child's legs

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