Don’t Be Bugged

You may be a bit of a pest to your charges, but sometimes you have to bug them to protect them.

Similarly to sun damage, protection from insect bites is best accomplished by prevention. Avoiding areas known to harbor flying insects and ticks goes a long way to prevent bites. Early morning and early evening are the usual times of most activity by insects. Light-colored and long-sleeved tops and long pants, with socks on the outside over the cuffs, help in preventing bug bites.

Avoid areas with bug zapping devices — they attract more flying insects than they kill. Avoid local weather conditions that exacerbate bug problems — such as lack of wind or wind from a certain direction. Avoid stagnant water, whether in natural or in man made locales.

DEET is the most potent and most effective chemical insect repellent. It is best used on outer clothing, which is then washed after use. If applied to the skin, use sparingly and at low concentrations. And then only to ward off insects that pose a threat to health, such as ticks or mosquitoes. Apparently bug repellent also makes sunscreen less effective.

Natural repellents, such as oil of citronella or lemongrass, are less effective than DEET and more appropriate for pesky bugs, such as gnats. Discontinue use of any insect repellent that causes a rash or other negative reaction. The way the repellent feels on the skin or the odor of insect repellents may be objectionable to child or adult. If you are unfamiliar with any ingredient and need more information, search the web site.

Clip-on insect repellents are now available. Initial reviews say that they are easy to assemble. Battery powered, they are said to be effective up to 12 hours and emit no odor.

After being outdoors, examine the child, the pet, and yourself for ticks and other bites. Be alert for any bull’s-eye rashes or infected insect bites. You should be able to identify and distinguish between a dog tick and a deer tick. If in doubt, bring the tick to a health care professional.

If the child is allergic to bee or wasp stings, have the appropriate emergency treatment always available, and in a few locations, such as in the car and in your bag. Some children have EpiPens others may only need a bug bite reliever (we like AfterBite for kids).

Home remedies for insect bites include witch hazel, alcohol, a tiny bit of ammonia, and ice cubes or an ice pack to reduce swelling. It is better to plan for itchy bites by getting an age-appropriate remedy suggested by your physician or pharmacist. Do not apply and cortisone based preparation, whether prescription or over-the -counter, to the child unless directed to do so by a physician. Applying ice or cold compress to the affected area is a safer choice as first aid.

What remedies do you use to treat bug bites?


  1. I never in all my years ever thought to check the EPA website. Thanks for thinking of it. Great resource I feel I should have known about this site as a childcare provider much earlier. Wow, you guys always find something I didn't know. Wow, learn something new every day.Thanks,Lara, Greenwich CT

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