Avoiding bites and stings this summer

Kids can hardly be contained indoors this time of year, when the days are long and the sun is warm. But other creatures also love the summer weather — so how can you keep your kids from being bitten and stung by insects?

Dayton Children’s has a few tips for managing the most familiar summer stingers.


Mosquitoes are the most prevalent and disrupting summer insects. Follow these simple steps to help keep them out of your fun:

• Stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.

• Use screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering your home.

• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you're outdoors.

• Use insect repellents. The most effective and long-lasting ones contain DEET (permethrin or N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). Products with 10 percent to 30 percent DEET provide about 3 hours of protection. Experts suggest that it's acceptable to apply repellents with low concentrations of DEET to infants over 2 months old. Other guidelines cite that it's acceptable to use repellents containing DEET on children over 2 years of age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends repellents that contain a chemical called picaridin or the oil of lemon eucalyptus.

• Read and follow the directions on the label. Have adults apply to children. Do not apply repellent to your child's hands — children tend to put their hands in their eyes and mouth.

• Re-apply as necessary. Swimming and sweating will require re-applications.

• Eliminate mosquito-breeding areas by removing standing water from gutters, old tires, wading pools, tarps, potted plants, and other outside buckets and pails. Also, be sure the water in pet dishes and birdbaths is changed regularly.

Bees and wasps

Bees and wasps always seem to find the picnic as they buzz around in search of something sweet. To avoid stings, stay away from bee or wasp nests, keep sweet-smelling food or drink covered when you’re eating outdoors, and don’t swat at flying insects. It can irritate them, causing them to sting.

If you or your child is stung, follow these steps:

• Remove the stinger. A bee will leave behind a stinger attached to a venom sac. Try to remove it as quickly as possible by gently scraping it out in a sideways motion with a blunt-edged object, such as a credit card.

• Wash the area carefully with soap and water 2 to 3 times a day until the skin is healed.

• Apply a cold pack, or a cold, wet washcloth for a few minutes.

• Give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for pain.

While most bites and stings are relatively harmless, the two greatest risks from most insect stings and bites are an allergic reaction. If your child is allergic, make sure you have the right antidote ready and a way to call for help. Education and supervision are the best preventive measures that parents can take toward protecting their child.

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