Summer shouldn't BITE!
This time of year brings everyone outdoors which increases our chances of being bit by an insect, spider, or bug- and hopefully not siblings. Whether it’s a mosquito or bee, everyone’s body reacts (or should I say OVER-reacts) differently to these pesky bites and stings. The redness, swelling, and itch that follow are due the skin’s response to the newly injected foreign material. In some cases these symptoms can be impressive! Some of us are so sensitive to this reaction we must carry an “Epi pen” to prevent a sudden allergic reaction. But, for the rest of us, here are my helpful hints to minimize the discomfort while these spots regress:
Oral anti-histamines help from the inside, especially if you have multiple spots. These help fight the itch and lessen the redness and swelling. It is important to minimize this complaint since itching severely can lead to open scratches that can become infected. Though Benadryl works best, the drowsiness it produces might limit its use by some. Instead, try a non-sedating anti-histamine such as Claritin or Zyrtec both of which are now over-the-counter and can be used by children as young as 12 months old. If you are uncertain on their dose just call our office. NOTE: I’m not a huge fan of topical anti-histamines (such as Benadryl lotion, etc.) because I find these provide little to no relief. I DO like Calamine lotion, Traumeel cream, or Arnica paste (homeopathic) to work locally on the spots. Also, consider apis as a homeopathic treatment; especially for bee stings and mosquito bites. Yes, it’s true… you can use store-bought meat tenderizer to help lessen significant swelling. Just as it degrades the proteins of “tough” meat, it helps break down the foreign protein from the flying pest to help the body speed up the recovery process.
I recommend that families draw a permanent line around a large, worrisome spot. That way there’s no guessing if it is actually growing with time. Infection is truly rare but notify our office if the area has become painful, enlarged, or an open wound.
The most important thing to do is keep your child from itching the spots, even if you have to cover them with a band-aid. And remember, significant reactions can take over a week to completely disappear! The best action is prevention! Clothing can be the best prevention but make sure you protect bare skin with an age appropriate insect repellent. And don’t forget to reapply after a few hours, extreme sweating, or swimming.
Have a safe and fun summer!
Sunburn is caused by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. There are two types of UV radiation: Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). Both forms may cause sunburn, although UVA is the more damaging and is especially potent in the summer months. Young children may sustain this skin injury at the beach, at sporting events, while hiking, skiing, and playing outdoors. In adolescents, sunburn may result from time spent in a tanning bed. In all instances, sunburn is the result of a combination of improper protection of the skin with sunscreen or clothing and excessive exposure to the sun. Sunburn is a serious problem in all children, but especially so in infants who have thin or fair skin. Fair-skinned children need to be protected throughout childhood and even into adulthood. The most common physical characteristics that are predictors for severe sunburn are red or blond hair, blue or green eyes, freckles and/or large numbers of moles.
The safest most effective sun protectant products are mineral sunblocks. This includes products whose main ingredient is either micronized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Check out your sunscreen's safety and efficacy profile by searching for it here