Bug Off! Preventing & Treating Bug Bites and Stings

The latest advice on how to keep these insects from biting or stinging your child, from Parents magazine and the American Academy of Pediatrics.




Home Base: They live in wooded, grassy areas and over lakes and ponds. Rarely, they can transmit disease, such as the West Nile virus, which can cause inflammation of the brain, says David Kimberlin, MD, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

First Aid: Dab hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, or a baking-soda paste onto itchy bites. A cool compress may help too. Call your doctor if bites become infected or if your child develops a fever or a bad headache.

Steer Clear: Keep your child indoors at dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. Apply repellent to her skin, and when it's very buggy out, try to dress her in pants and a long-sleeved shirt.


Home Base: These bugs usually live in wooded areas and range in size from a pinhead to an apple seed. They can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. Ticks like to burrow into snug, warm areas of the body.

First Aid: Remove a tick with tweezers. Wash the area and apply antibiotic ointment. Call the doctor if your child develops a fever or a rash.

Steer Clear: If your child will be in a wooded area, apply repellent and dress her in a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and socks. Check her entire body for ticks daily.

VIDEO: Boy With Facial Paralysis Caused By a Tick Bite

Boy with Facial Paralysis Caused by a Tick Bite
Boy with Facial Paralysis Caused by a Tick Bite

Fire Ants

Home Base: These aggressive reddish-brown ants are commonly found in the Southeast and Southwest. They build nests that create mounds of fine soil.

First Aid: Wash the area around the bite, and apply an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes. Call the doctor if your child experiences widespread redness or swelling, or has difficulty breathing.

Steer Clear: Check your yard for fire-ant mounds and either have them professionally removed or keep your child away from them. Make sure he always wears shoes outdoors.

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