Most insect bites are harmless in the long run. There is usually no reason to see a doctor to identify what type of bites they may be, because the treatment is all the same: minimize itching and prevent infection. A doctor usually wouldn’t be able to determine what type of creature had your child for lunch.
What to Do When Treating Insect Bites
Follow these tips to soothe the irritation caused by insect bites:
This can be treated a variety of over-the-counter itch-stopping products applied directly to the bite. One of our favorite instant-relief treatments is a topical anesthetic gel (Itch-X) applied to the bites. This may sting if the bit has been scratched open, but it works well otherwise. Pink Calamine lotion or anti-itch cream with calamine can be very effective for itching, but be aware that if placed on a bite that has been scratched open, it may increase the chance of scarring. In order to avoid overdose, do not use oral anti-itch products at the same time.
Stinging or Burning:
Apply a cold washcloth to any particularly large, burning, stinging or itching bites. An ice cube rubbed around individual bites works too.
Flea bites and mosquito bites usually don’t require any special measures to prevent infection of the surrounding skin. Insect bites will normally have some amount of redness and swelling, as well as a bit of clear drainage. Spider bites, however, tend to create a much larger area of redness and swelling. While this is normal, it does increase the risk of infection developing in the bite. Before a bite becomes infected – here are some measures you can take to prevent a large spider bite from becoming infected. Follow these steps two or three times a day when treating insect bites so they don’t become infected:
- Wash the bite with warm soapy water.
- Apply some diluted hydrogen peroxide (mix ½ water with ½ peroxide).
- Wash off the peroxide after two minutes.
- Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment.
- Ice applied to a large spider bite can decrease the pain and burning. Following these steps will usually prevent an infection from setting in
- Cut fingernails – this will decrease the risk of infection being introduced into the bites, and will lessen the chance of scarring.
Infected bites – if the red area around the bite continues to enlarge, becomes more swollen and painful, and starts to drain pus, then it has become infected. Here are some steps you should follow three times a day if this occurs:
- Wash with warm soapy water.
- Apply a hot washcloth to the area for 10 minutes.
- Apply diluted hydrogen peroxide, then wash off after two minutes.
- Apply diluted Povidone-iodine solution (mix ¼ of this over-the-counter brownish red antiseptic with ¾ water) and let it dry for two minutes.
- Thoroughly wash off all of the solution.
- Apply over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. It may take one or two days for this treatment to start to improve the infection, but it should not keep getting worse during this treatment.
More serious infection – if the redness and drainage continue to worsen, or your child develops fevers or red streaks extending out from the bite, then you should see your doctor right away. If it is after hours, you should page your doctor. Your child will probably need antibiotics to treat the infection.