Kids Health Matters: Preventing and treating bug bites

They crawl, they fly and they bite. Bug bites used to be considered just an annoyance, but now we know some insects carry very serious diseases.

Ticks carry Lyme disease and mosquitoes carry West Nile and other viruses.

So Dr. Kate Cronan of Nemours DuPont Hospital says preventing bites is a must.

Stay indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. Wear hats, long sleeves and pants if possible in damp or wooded areas where insects gather.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says don't wear bright colors or flowery prints - they can attract bugs. And don't forget insect repellent.

"DEET is really thought to be safe," said Dr. Cronan.

DEET shouldn't be used on babies younger than 2 months of age. But above 2 months, the CDC says products with 10 to 30 percent DEET are okay.

Picaridin is an effective alternative to DEET. Be sure to follow directions for how often to apply it.

It's not like you do with sunscreen. It sticks more than that," said Dr. Cronan.

If your child does get bitten, try to keep their hands off.

"If you scratch them, you have a chance of getting them infected," said Dr. Cronan.

To fight the itch, try aloe vera gel - it calms the bite. Find a lotion with oatmeal or, head to the kitchen.

"Put real oatmeal - actual oatmeal, out of the thing, put it in the bathtub and sit in the tub," said Dr. Cronan. "That can realy bring some relief."

Dr. Cronan says products like Benadryl should only be used over the age of 2, and if your doctor approves.

As for tick bites, she says it's better to have a doctor remove it, to make sure all the parts are taken out.
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