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All about maternity 26
“I have just recently moved my baby girl with a 6 month old todder and am very much worried about him having insect bites and stings. What to do?” — Catherine, 36

It is as natural for you to worry about insect bites and stings as it is natural for your child to obtain one or a few at some point.

Usually the body’s reaction to it is a mild one. Often this involves minimal itching, stinging or slight swelling. Always make sure to look for a stinger and remove it in case it got stuck, then wash the affected area with soap and water. To help relieve the swelling you can put a wrapped iced pack on the spot. Please remember not to leave it on too long otherwise it could cause more damage than the sting. Some calamine lotion can also be helpful to put on the affected spot.

Things can get more serious when your child shows an allergic reaction or the sting/bite gets infected. If your child shows any of the following reactions after he has been bitten/stung, call an ambulance:

- wheezing or trouble breathing, - breaking out in hives or rash, - excessive swelling, - vomiting, - rapid heartbeat, - confusion indicating shock

In case your toddler didn’t react allergic but succeeded in aggravating the bite or sting by scratching it you will observe a swelling or a spreading of redness around the affected area once it got infected. If you observe any of these signs or if your baby runs a fever immediately give your doctor a call. It then might be necessary to start a round of antibiotics to prevent blood poisoning.

As is often the case precaution is the best way to go about the problem. Be sure to dress the little one in light-colored clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible. Install special screens on doors and windows to keep the bugs out. You might also use mosquito netting over your boy’s infant seat, playpen, stroller and cot. Avoid using scented soaps or lotions as they might attract bugs. You can use insect repellents on baby’s older then 2 months that contain Picaridin and DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, not more than 10%-30%). However it’s a good idea to use the minimum concentration you can for the amount of time you anticipate needing protection in order to prevent reactions to the repellent and do not use it more than once a day. In order to prevent any ingestion of the repellent do not use it on the little one's hands and faces. Keep in mind that you could try repellents based on natural remedies such as essence of tomato and citronella. However, before applying them check that they are really suitable for use with small children.

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