Insects bite. They bite any tiny piece of bare skin that they can spot and they tend to invite their friends to join in on the human blood buffet as well. Mosquitoes, ants, houseflies, deerflies, and all kinds of other fluttery critters are out to make our summer vacations itchy hell, and our precious little babies are not safe from these flying tyrants either.
Luckily, there are some good news in the mess. Insect bites are usually nothing to get seriously worried about, and things like creams and similar mild medicine can make them much easier to bear, and in time, make them go away. We have compiled some daily life wisdom to help our fellow parents with handling insect irritation.
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Reality check: how often do insects bite babies?
It actually depends on each individual baby, just like with adults. Certain skin types can be more attractive to insects, and some are certainly more susceptible than others.
For example, babies with thin, dry, or sensitive skin might have more trouble with their reaction to bites, such as the bite spots being itchier, developing more intense redness or larger swelling.
Environmental factors also play a major role. Temperature is the most obvious one. Mosquitoes, ants, and all the rest of the bug company are more active in warm and hot weather, which is why we mostly experience their nuisance in the summer months.
Flies, on the other hand, have a thing for keeping track of humidity in the area. Adults of the common housefly in particular are notorious for going off the chain and biting like crazy a few hours prior to rain. This is especially evident if you live near a smallish body of water, like a canal or a local pond.
Finally, just being outdoors in the great green nature increases bite risks, particularly if your baby is crawling through a grassy area or playing in a garden. That said, playing outside does not guarantee getting bitten, just like staying shut indoors does not guarantee staying safe. So what can you do?
First up: figure out if it is actually a bug bite
With all the redness, rashes, and diaper irritation that they experience more or less every day, it can be tricky to tell if your baby was actually bitten by a bug. To figure it out, take a closer look at the problem area.
Never mind the redness, which is common for most skin issues, but take a look at the shape and texture. A typical insect bite looks like a red, or intensely pink, slightly raised bump on the skin.
Some of the worse ones might have a blister near the center. Most of them are roughly round in shape, although bites from certain kinds of mosquitos, especially when irritated by scratching, can spread into a squiggly-shaped blob. As a rule, bug bites are insanely itchy, and occasionally a little painful.
Second step: what to treat the bug bite with
Most insect bite troubles will go away with some simple relief measures. To ease the itching, wrap some ice in a cloth and apply it to the bite area, or apply a cool, damp (not wet) washcloth. You can also apply topical hydrocortisone cream of a low concentration, or go home craft on it and use paste made from baking soda and water.
If you are wondering about what medicines might be safe to give to your bitten baby, you can use an oral antihistamine to relieve the itching, while acetaminophen-based or ibuprofen-based medicines will ease the painful bites. If you opt for this strategy, make sure to consult your pediatrician about dosage instructions (typically based on your baby’s age and weight).
Two things to watch out for are allergies and infections. Some children are allergic to insect bites (all or by some particular species), and these allergies can be as bad as triggering anaphylaxis.
If your baby starts having problems swallowing, or has difficulty breathing, after an insect bite, immediately contact your local emergency service. If the swelling and redness around the bite gets worse in stead of better, or starts migrating along the child’s body, visit the doctor, say it is a bug bite, and share your concerns regarding an allergy. If you can, tell the doctor what kind of bug bit your child – what is it called or at least what it looked like.
Likewise, if the redness of the bite stubbornly sticks around after a few days, instead of easing away, or starts to spread, or if there is strange discharge from the bite, there is a chance that it has been infected and you should take your baby to the pediatrician to be checked out. Antibiotic ointments and such take care of most of the simple skin problems, and do not require a prolonged stay at the doctor’s – you can apply them at home.
Heads up: prevent insects from biting your baby
Insect repellents are most parents’ first choice, and they tend to be okay for babies older than two months, but only in small doses – usually one application per day. You should also remember to wash the insect repellent off of their skin before you put them to bed.
Avoid going out in the evening, because that is when the mosquitoes swarm out in crazy numbers and go hunting for skin to bite. If you do have to be out in the evening, make sure to avoid bodies of water, especially the stagnant ones like canals, cesspools, ponds, lakes, as well as the greenery on the shore, as the insects will gather among the moist leaves.
Avoiding light and not wearing bright colors is actually useless – these pests track us via the carbon dioxide we naturally breathe out. However, if you happen to be in a reedy area, pick some cat tails and smolder them. The smoke repels most common insects, and does not leave a nasty scent.