Warmer weather invites activities and adventures. But what happens when things go awry? In this special five-part series, the real experts at NYU Langone Medical Center provide valuable tips to serve as your guide. Part 5:
When outdoors in the summer, avoid areas where insects are more likely to be present, such as areas with stagnant water, uncovered food, or flowers in bloom. Dress your children in long sleeves and pants, avoid brightly colored clothing, and use insect repellent to help prevent bites or stings. For those with severe allergies, always carry an Epipen, if one is prescribed, when traveling to places where you might be stung. Before leaving for any outdoor activities, check to make sure that it is not expired.
Bug bites and/or stings should always be cleaned to help prevent infection. Seek medical treatment if the site of the bite is warm, tender, growing in size, is getting more painful, or, if there is any red streaking, which is a warning of a serious infection.
Dress your child in long sleeves and pants when hiking to prevent ticks. If your child does get a tick bite, do not squeeze the tick to try to get it out. This could actually cause more saliva to be released and could cause an infection. The tick should be removed with tweezers by someone who has experience to ensure that the mouth parts that are attached to the skin are completely removed. After identifying a tick bite, watch for signs of a bullseye rash or fever, which could signal Lyme disease. Call your child’s doctor if you can’t remove the tick or the tick’s head, your child develops fever or rash within 2 weeks after the bite, if the bite looks infected, or if you have any other concerns.
When choosing an insect repellent, look for products such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. With regards to tick repellents, DEET products can be used, but permethrin products–a synthetic insect repellent–are applied to clothing, and are more effective against ticks compared to DEET. Most insect repellents are safe to use on children older than 2 months of age. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children younger than 3 years of age. Products containing more than 30% DEET are not recommended for children. Do not reapply insect repellents due to the risk of toxicity.