Insect bites are quite common among children. Given the times that kids spend outdoors and the tropical weather of the country, India seems to be breed with various insects and bugs. Often children don’t realise that they have been stung or bitten until it starts itching. It starts with reddening of skin and can sometimes lead to swelling. When you think of insects, you only think about mosquitoes or bee stings. Mosquitoes are indeed a huge menace these days. Most of them are not poisonous. But they can lead to allergic reactions in your precious little ones, including, but not limited to redness, itching, stinging or minor swelling on the spot of the bite. Some insects do carry viruses that can cause other deadly diseases, but most insects in and around our houses would cause mild reactions.
What Are The Common Insect Bites?
The most common insect bites are from mosquito, flies, red ant, bed bugs, spiders and fleas. Though these bites are not dangerous, but off late there has been an outbreak of dengue, which is caused by mosquitoes. There are different types of flying insects out in the nature. Some insects can inject venom into the skin. Sometimes insect bites can cause allergic reaction called as anaphylaxis. Insect bites can take 4-5 days to heal. But if swelling persists, one should not ignore it. The common insects which we face in our daily life are:
- Mosquito: India is home to mosquitoes. They are commonly found all over. A small sting can sometimes be dangerous for human beings as they give invitations to diseases like malaria and dengue. Causalities on account of malaria and dengue are a regular feature. Hence, it is crucial that we prevent our kids from getting bitten by mosquitoes. And in case it happens, we should know how to go about it
- Honey bees: Honey obtained from honey bees though sweet, their sting can be very bad. If honey bee hive is attacked or disturbed with, then mobs of bees can attack the person, which can lead to death. If possible, move away from biting insects
- Red ants: Also known as fire ants, their bite is like fire on the skin. They are found everywhere, even in our homes. Red ants of India are the dangerous species. Red ants bite can sting, itch and irritate the skin. The swelling can last up to week
- Wasp: The bite of the wasp is very powerful. Wasps look similar to bee. They attack when someone poses a threat to their territory
Some insects attack when you wear dark colored clothing or when your mess with their territories. It is very important that any sting, be it by mosquito, bee or wasp be attended immediately.
First Aid For Insect Bites
Always keep First Aid box handy in case of emergency. As mentioned before, insect bite can cause redness, itching, irritation or swelling. In case of an insect bite, use this first aid to relieve the pain:
- Wash the bite area with soap and water
- Apply coconut oil
- Apply ice to the area of swelling. Ice helps in reducing the swelling. Elevate if the bite or sting is on arm or leg
- Apply Vaseline or petroleum jelly. Products containing hydrocortisone, pramoxine or lidocaine will also help to control pain. Calamine lotion can help soothe the irritation and itching
- In case, the pain persists, then try painkiller like paracetamol or ibuprofen –only for older children. For younger children, seek your pediatrician’s advice
- Stay calm and don’t move
- In case of bee sting, remove the sting from the skin as soon as possible
Click here to know how to set up a first aid box.
The symptoms should not persist more than two days. If you see any reaction, do contact the doctor without further delay.
Home Remedies For Insect Bites And Stings
When you are not sure of any medication, home remedy is always a safe option. This remedies will help minimizing pain and itchiness from the bite and give relief along with soothing the skin. However, if you notice any severe reaction, medical advice is a must.
- Do away with the stringer: Using a kitchen knife, scrape away the stringer as soon as you can. The longer it stays on the skin, the more venom it sends in your body
- Coconut oil: It is the safest and the cheapest home remedy. Coconut oil kills harmful microbes and bacteria when applied on cuts, bruises or bites. It also helps to heal faster
- Ice pack: The quickest and easiest way to contain swelling and inflammation would be to apply an ice pack on the wound or site of the bite. You should keep a washcloth or a towel between the ice and the skin to get positive outcome
- Papaya: If you have papaya in your home, place a slice of it on the wound for about an hour. Insect venom will be neutralized with the enzymes that papaya contains
- Baking soda or mud: Apply baking soda or wet mud to the area of sting. Be careful with baking soda. The chemical present in the soda can burn a little. Dilute baking soda with skin lotion or or mix one teaspoon of it in a glass of water. Use a cotton ball to apply the solution. Wet mud helps to soothe the sting bump
- Plantain leaves: Grinding plantain leaves and applying them to the site of wasp sting can give you relief from itching.
- Onion: Applying fresh slice of onion to sting site does also helps to get relief from itching and skin irritation. Onions contain enzymes that help to deal with inflammation
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Application of apple cider vinegar as soon as the bee or wasp stings can help to remove any possibilities of poison and reduce swelling. You can soak the site of the bite
Can Human Saliva Heal Insect Bites?
It is believed human saliva can help to heal the bee stung, mosquito bite, any itching or skin irritation. Human saliva has a natural disinfectant which calms down the wound. However, risks of transferring bacteria from the mouth do remain. Only the person who has contracted the wound should lick himself.
Preventing Insect Bites In Children
You cannot stop your kids from going outdoors, and that is not fair either. However, you can do simple things to prevent insect bites in your kids, like:
- Dress them properly: Dress them in long sleeves and long pants so as to cover the skin. Prefer light colored clothing when they go out to play at dusk
- Surroundings: Make sure there are no potholes or standing waters where the kids play. The play area should be clean and free from shrubs. Ensure there are no open garbage bins either
- Mosquito repellent: For older children, mosquito repellent can be an easy way to steer clear of mosquitoes. However, this cannot and should not be attempted on younger kids
- Play dates: In hot summer days, you can plan playdates and let your child play indoors with his friends
These home remedies are safe from any side effects. If pain and swelling still persists, it is always advisable to consult your doctor at the earliest. Be safe, stay safe!
Click here to read about mosquito bites in babies.
Click here and here to read about dengue.