Prevention and Treatment for your Family
My Little Travel Bug
The best strategy for dealing with bug bites is to prevent or reduce your chances of getting a bite.
==> Dress your family in light colored clothing, as mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors. Wear long sleeves and pants if possible.
==> Avoid going outside at dawn and at dusk.
==> Get rid of and avoid any standing water traps such as bird baths, pool covers etc. These are insect breeding grounds.
==> Cover your sleeping areas with mosquito netting, and try to sleep in screened in or areas.
==> If in a heavy mosquito area, wear mosquito netting over your clothes and use a hat to keep it out of your eyes.
Choosing a Repellant
If you are traveling to an area where there is insect transmission of diseases, it is important to use insect repellant to reduce your chances of being bitten.
DEET is the most common ingredient in insect repellants. Other names for DEET include, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide and N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide.
==> Children aged 6 months to 2 years should have DEET 10% applied once daily. Protection lasts approximately 3 hours. Some sources will recommend applying again if the child is still exposed to insects that pose a health risk.
==> Children aged 2 -12 years should have DEET 10% applied at least 3 times per day.
==> 12 years and up should use DEET up to 30%. 30% will last approximately 6 hours. Apply again if necessary.
==> Pregnant women can use DEET if in a high risk area. There have been limited studies on the effects of DEET on the unborn child, however at least one study has shown it to be safe in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. The benefits of using DEET vs. the risks of using DEET should be discussed with your physician.
Soybean Oil, Citronella Oil, Lavender Oil have all been used to repel mosquitos. Studies have shown that they do not work as well as DEET. They should only be used in children 2 years and older and parents should be careful to ensure children do not aspirate in to their lungs. Their effect will last from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Permethrin Sprays- can be used on clothing and bug nets to repel mosquitos.
==> Keep sprays away from the eyes, irritated skin and cuts.
==> Apply sunscreen first and wait 20 minutes before applying insect repellant.
==> To apply to your child’s face, spray it on your hands and carefully rub into your child’s face avoiding the eye area.
==> Do not spray in enclosed areas.
==> Avoid combination sunscreen and insect repellant products. Sunscreen needs to be applied much more frequently than insect repellant.
Dealing with Insect Bites
To help with the itch:
==> Bathe in a small amount of baking soda and water
==> Apply Calamine Lotion
==> For children aged 2 years and up, use a small amount of corticosteroid cream such as hydrocortisone cream.
==> For extreme itch, children aged 2 years and up can be given diphenhydramine. It is available in many different brand names (see the appropriate Country Health Profile) usually in both liquid and tablet forms. It will make you drowsy, although occasionally children have the opposite reaction.
If the bites start to swell and are hot to the touch, an antibiotic ointment should also be applied to prevent infection. If the swelling worsens or spreads, seek medical attention.