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Just like adults, infants too can get bitten by different types of insects. Most insect bites do not cause any major medical complication in babies and can be treated with topical creams and ointments. Some, however, do need medical attention. Here’s all that you need to know about insect bites on infants, the symptoms, prevention, and the various ways of treating them.
How Common Are Insect Bites on Infants?
Insect bites are very common in infants. However, it majorly depends on the time your baby spends indoors or outdoors. Babies who remain indoors most of the time are less likely to have insect bites or will have fewer insect bites than babies who spend more time outdoors. It also depends on how ventilated your house is, how long you keep the windows open, and the weather conditions. The weather is important because insect bites are more common during hot and humid weather than in cold weather.
Symptoms of Insect Bites in Infants
Insect bite symptoms may vary according to the affected area of the body, the type of insect, and whether or not toxins or irritants have penetrated the baby’s body. Some babies may not cry or show any signs unless the parents notice the bite, while some babies may cry frantically. When you do notice a mark on your baby’s body, do take a closer look to identify if it is an insect bite and also check for other symptoms to gauge if your baby could need medical attention. Here are some common symptoms that you will notice:
- Raised red bumps on the skin
- Itchy or painful red bumps on the skin
- Blisters on the skin
- Sometimes the insect bite mark can be seen.
- Sometimes there is no symptom at all
How to Treat Your Baby for Insect Bites
Most insect bites are treatable at home. You could use home remedies or buy safe over-the counter creams to ease the pain in the area where your baby has had a bug bite. Here are some ways you could provide first aid for insect bites on babies:
- Move your baby to a safer place to avoid more insect bites.
- If you notice the stinger lodged in the skin, try pulling it out with tweezers or your
- Clean the affected area with soap and water.
- You may apply 1 % hydrocortisone for relief from itching and pain due to ant bites and bee stings.
- Antibiotic creams and antihistamines are good for spider bites, should always be given after consulting the doctor.
- Some cases may require pain relief like paracetamol, but should be given after consulting the doctor.
- You may apply an ice pack on the affected area to soothe itching; it works well for bug bites too.
All the above-mentioned treatment options work really well in treating most insect bites. However, if you notice that the insect bite is becoming redder or the swelling is increasing, you should seek medical help immediately.
Home Remedies for Treating Insect Bites on Babies
Many times, parents need to treat insect bites immediately to soothe and calm the baby until they can reach a medical store and buy some medicine. That’s where home remedies come to the rescue. Here are some home remedies to treat insect bites on babies:
- Honey: Honey works really well on insect bites. You may apply it directly on the insect bite. The soothing properties of honey will help ease itching and also prevent infection.
- Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is great for most skin-related problems. Fresh aloe vera gel provides relief from itching and pain. It is extremely safe for a baby’s skin too. Apply the natural gel directly on the affected area. If you do not have an aloe vera plant nearby, you may procure natural aloe vera gel from a good store.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar can help in treating mosquito bites in babies. But, ensure you do not use it straight from the bottle but dilute it in water before applying it on the skin. Apple cider vinegar is generally strong and leaves a burning sensation when applied directly on the skin. It could also leave a mark. Mix about 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water and then dab the mix with a cotton ball on the affected area. Ensure it does not go in your baby’s eyes.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon juice is a good disinfectant. You may take a few drops of lemon juice and apply them on the affected area. Alternatively, you may rub a lemon peel on the site of the bite to disinfect it.
- Toothpaste: As weird as it may sound, toothpaste also works well in treating insect bites. Do not use the gel-based ones, instead, use the ones with natural ingredients. You may apply a small amount of toothpaste on the affected area to provide relief from itching and swelling. (Please verify)
- Baking Soda Paste: Add a few drops of water to about 1 teaspoon of baking soda and make a paste. Apply this solution on mosquito bites to cure swelling and itching. (Please verify)
These home remedies may help in treating insect bites in babies when you have no access to medicines and creams. Although most of these remedies are safe to use, you must ensure that your baby is not allergic to the products. Natural ingredients could irritate the skin more and add to the discomfort. So, we recommend that you consult your doctor before adopting any home remedial measures to treat insect bites in babies.
When to See a Doctor
Some insect bites may cause an allergic reaction in babies. Bites/ stings from wasps, hornets, bees, etc., may cause severe complications and may need immediate medical attention. In case your baby gets bitten by insects, keep a watch for the symptoms mentioned below and take necessary action:
- Abdominal pain or vomiting
- Trouble breathing
- Rashes on the body
- Increased heartbeat
- Swollen lips or throat
Now that you know a little more about insect bites and ways to treat them, here are some ways you can prevent your children from getting bitten by insects.
How to Prevent Your Child From Getting Insect Bites
When you know your baby is bound to get a bug bite on the playground or in the house, you must take preventive measures to avoid the discomfort or inconvenience insect bites cause. The following measures may reduce your child’s chances of getting stung by insects:
- Do not let your kid roam barefoot on the grass.
- Cover your child properly when you plan an outdoor trip.
- Use a mosquito net when sleeping outdoors or while sleeping indoors with the windows open.
- Make use of screens to cover windows and doors and keep the insects out of the house.
- Use mosquito and insect repellents. Mosquito repellents must be chosen according to the age of your child. Some repellents can be applied directly on the skin; however, if your baby is under 6 months of age, using any mosquito repellent directly on the skin is not recommended. You may, however, use the ones that can be applied to the clothes or shoes. Nowadays, you also get mosquito repellent stickers. Stick them anywhere the baby can’t reach on his own, like on the back or on the stroller.
- Avoid taking your child to insect-prone areas such as beehives, wasp nests, trash cans, etc.
Here are a few FAQ’s that will help you know more about insect bites on babies and how you can handle them effectively:
1. Should I be concerned if my child has been bitten or stung by an insect?
Insect bites are very common in children. Fleas, mosquitoes, spiders or ticks often show milder symptoms, whereas fire ants, bees, wasps, and hornet bites can be very painful and discomforting for your child. Although there is nothing to stress about, you must provide first aid to your baby to soothe the irritation and keep his skin healthy. Ignoring the bites could lead to the baby scratching them, and the infection could spread.
2. How can I treat stings if my baby doesn’t have any allergic reaction?
If you notice a stinger in your baby’s skin, you must pull it out with your fingernails or with tweezers. You can also try scraping it out with a credit card. Then, you must wash the area with mild soap and water, and apply ice to reduce the swelling and itching. Baking soda solution or calamine solution can also be used to relieve itching. If all these remedies do not help, see your doctor immediately.
3. Will an insect bite or sting cause an infection?
An insect bite or sting can become infected in a few days if your child scratches it with his nails. If you notice the affected area becoming redder, more swollen, or if you see your child developing a fever, take your child to the hospital. Your child may then need a course of antibiotics to treat the infection. Apart from these, if an unusual symptom is registered, you should talk to your doctor immediately.
4. Should I be concerned about insect bites if I am travelling abroad with my baby?
If you are travelling to a country where flies, mosquitoes or other insects are responsible for spreading life-threatening diseases such as dengue, malaria, chikungunya or yellow fever, you should talk to your healthcare practitioner about the same. You may be advised to give a shot or take medicines to help your child fight these ailments.
Insect bites are common, and although it is possible to prevent insect bites, your child could still get bitten or stung at some point in time. With careful planning and awareness, you can handle insect bites on your baby, and keep home safe and healthy.