Keeping your children safe from animal and insect bites

There’s nothing worse than having a child in pain or distress. Whether it’s been caused by falling over during a game, or from an accident at school, it’s never pleasant. During the summer, you’ve got plenty more to worry about: children are playing outside a lot more, and are more likely to take a tumble – or be victim to insect bites. While most of these bites are harmless, if not irritating, sometimes they can be quite awful, and can make your child very itchy and unhappy. The best way to stop bites itching is to not get bitten at all – so, here’s a guide to help you prevent them as much as possible.

Common insects to watch out for

Mosquitos

The bane of everyone’s summer, these small noisy insects can cause children lots of grief, especially as they come out in early evenings, when little ones are likely to be enjoying the cooler evening air. They’re good at finding nooks and crannies in bedrooms too, and can ruin a good night’s sleep with their incessant buzzing and biting. Mosquito bites are usually harmless, but if you’re traveling to countries with malaria risk, you should always take precautions.

Wasps and hornets

Wasps and hornets are horrible, and can be quite scary to a small child. Growing to huge proportions now, these oversized stingers can cause a lot of pain and fright when they attack. Plus, as they can be quite aggressive, you don’t even have to be antagonizing them before they strike. Always check your sheds, outhouses and back yards for wasp nests, and get professionals in to remove them as soon as spot any signs of one.

Gnats

Similar to mosquitos, these little flying insects produce really itchy bites, and can be unrelenting in the warm summer months. While sprays and citronella candles are good at warding them off, as soon as you’re not protected, they’ll strike. Plus, they get into homes easily, and can reside inside for quite some time.

Ants

While most ants are harmless, some can cause a lot of pain. While you don’t really want ant nests to develop anywhere on your property, you should watch out for the more aggressive species, like fire ants and red ants. These can swarm up little legs quite quickly, and their bites hurt. Plus, as they’re so little, it can be hard to easily spot them all.

Animals

Animal bites are much rarer than insect bites, and usually only occur when an animal is in distress or is scared. For that reason, you should teach your children how to act around animals with respect, and how to handle them properly. Animal bites are much scarier than insect bites, and can be more serious. If you’re worried about a loose animal, such as a dog without a lead, speak to its owner. Sometimes their bark is worse than their bite!

How to avoid bites

Dress appropriately

Even though it’s hot, you should try to dress your children in loose, cotton tops with long sleeves, and the same for trousers. The cotton will keep them cool, as will the bagginess. Plus, they’ll protect your child’s skin from any insects, and give them a bit more protection if anything comes near them. If you’re going out walking, make sure they have good shoes, so if they tread on anything they won’t come to harm. Plus, have socks pulled up to protect the legs.

Use fly repellents

Fly repellents are a must-have in the summer, especially if you live near animals, water or in more rural areas. Keep a constant supply, and figure out what works the best. Be careful what you use on your children’s delicate skin, and always patch test first if you’re not sure. Creams and repellents are vital if you’re going outside or for a walk – you could get eaten alive without some sort of deterrent.

Make your home safe

While you can’t completely avoid your children getting insect bites when they’re outside, you can do a lot to protect them inside. If you need to open the windows, make sure you have a set of strong fly nets covering them. Likewise, if you discover any sort of insect infestation, or even animals like raccoons, get professionals out. Choose local services, for example like Go-Forth Pest Control of Thomasville NC, if you’re in North Carolina, to ensure a speedy service.

Be careful where and when you go out

Going for walks near the water or in long grass is lots of fun, but does raise the likelihood of being bitten. Take sensible precautions if you’re going to do this, like fly spray and long sleeves.

What happens if your child is bitten?

Monitor the bite area

Keep a close eye on the bite area, just in case your child has an allergic reaction. Make sure you know what bit them, or what it was likely to be, in case you have to let a medical professional know. If the swelling continues to grow, or the red area gets bigger, seek medical assistance as soon as you can. Plus, make sure that your child isn’t itching it too much, as this can break the skin and cause skin infections.

Apply creams or ointments

Putting on antihistamine creams can bring the itchy levels right down, and give your child a bit of a break. You could also try giving them an antihistamine tablet to help battle the itch from the inside. Be careful to choose child-friendly tablets and creams – ask your pharmacist or nurse for help if you’re not sure.

Try natural remedies

There’s plenty of natural remedies you can try, including oatmeal paste (made from ground oats and warm water); apple cider vinegar applied to the bites; fresh basil leaves chopped up and rubbed on the bite; and applying honey to the site.

Use ice and elevation

To bring the initial swelling down, elevate the limb that got bitten. This will reduce the blood flow and prevent the uncomfortable, tight sensation that bites have. Then, apply ice to the bite for 10 to 15 minutes every hour, for around six hours. Be careful to wrap the ice in fabric: never hold it directly against the skin.

Mosquito image by ShutterStock. 

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