Summer and insect bites: how to protect your children.
Bees, wasps, mosquitoes and insects can turn summer into a nightmare. Children are almost always more susceptible to inspect bites, but with just a few simple precautions you can prevent and treat these problems yourself without having to go to the paediatrician.
Let's take a look at the pesky critters to be aware of and how to prevent being bitten and the natural remedies we can use, and not just for bites.
Mosquitoes are incredibly good at biting without you even knowing, but there are a number of things you can do to stop bites. Wear light-coloured clothes: dark colours attract insects! Fit mosquito nets on the windows of your home and over cots, prams and strollers; remove puddles or pooling water near or inside the house (for example don’t leave saucers of water lying around). If necessary, use a special mosquito repellent for children, but avoid applying to hands, to prevent contact with lips and eyes.
If your child gets bitten, don’t let him scratch the bite since the skin may become pink, red and very itchy and will take longer to heal. If you see a little blood, wash and disinfect the bite. If the bump is very large and itchy, apply a little cortisone ointment.
Ticks are found in thick grass and other vegetation. Once they have latched onto you, ticks cling to your skin and suck your blood. The bite does not really hurt, so you may not even notice it. To prevent tick bites when you take a walk it’s a good idea to wear long sleeves and trousers when you are walking in forested, overgrown areas, tucking the hem of your trousers into your socks or boots. You can also use a DEET-based tick repellent, that you should spray on your skin and clothes.
When you come home, check for ticks carefully - even on your scalp - above all on children. If you find a tick, remove it immediately with a pair of tweezers, grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and pulling it upwards without squashing it. Burn the tick and disinfect the tick bite.
Bees, wasps and hornets
The worse bites and stings come from bees, wasps and hornets. The following measures can help you avoid insect bites and stings. Avoid using products with strong perfumes, such as soaps, shampoos and deodorants – these may attract insects; remove beehives from the garden or balcony; Remain calm and move away slowly if you encounter wasps, hornets or bees, don't wave your arms around or swat at them. If your child is enjoying a snack outdoors, cover sugary drinks and food that could attract insects.
Stings will usually cause a red, swollen lump to develop on the skin, that may be very painful and, in some cases, can be very itchy. Typically, bees leave a stinger in your skin (which looks like a black dot), while wasps and hornets withdraw it. If the stinger remains in your skin, remove it with tweezers or a sterilized needle.
Itchiness, pain, swelling and redness can be treated with a cold compress (such as ice wrapped in a flannel or cloth) or with antihistamines (for the itchiness) or paracetamol (for the pain).