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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
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Itchy or Painful Insect Bites - Brief Version

What are insect bites?

Insect bites cause itchy, red bumps. Some bites are painful.

How can I take care of my child?

If the bite is itchy:

  • Put calamine lotion or a mixture of baking soda and water on the bite.
  • If it is very itchy, put on 1% hydrocortisone cream. You can get this cream at the drug store.
  • Put firm, direct, steady pressure on the bite for 10 seconds. Use your fingernail or pen cap.

If the bite is painful:

  • Rub the bite with a cotton ball soaked in meat tenderizer and water for 20 minutes. This will help the pain. Don't use meat tenderizer near the eye.
  • If you don't have any meat tenderizer, use baking soda and water.
  • Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to help the pain.

How can I protect my child from insect bites?

  • Put a little insect repellent on clothing or skin before your child goes outdoors.
  • Don't put any repellent on the hands or on a sunburn or rash.
  • Make sure your child does not use more than 3 or 4 drops of the repellent.
  • Wash repellent off after your child comes indoors.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • A bite looks infected. You may see red streaks. It may feel more tender.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • The bite still itches or is very painful even after it has been treated.
  • You have other questions or concerns.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems