How to Prevent Bug Bites

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ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) --The weather has been gorgeous and that has more of us outdoors, which also means bug bites.

Dr. Kirsten Lee is a pediatrician with St. Louis Children's Hospital and joined Margie Ellisor with advice on ways to ward off bugs.

Bug Prevention Tips:

1) The Best Protection: a combination of Permethrin-treated clothing and 30% DEET applied to exposed skin.

  • DEET (max of 30%) should only be applied once a day to children
  • No repellants should be used on babies less than 2 months old
  • Apply in a well ventilated area or outside
  • Like sunscreen, do not spray onto face. Apply to hands and rub onto key areas.
  • Wash hands after application
  • More is not better.
  • The most common side effect of too much DEET is skin irritation or rash.

2) Alternatives:

  • Long pants and sleeves will provide some protection but do not actually kill or repel insects/arthropods.
  • Picaridin is effective against mosquitos and ticks.
  • Lemon Eucalyptus  (P-methane-3,8-diol) may sound natural but it is not as well-tested and NOT recommended for use in young children.
  • BioUD has a very low toxicity rating and can be effective against mosquitoes.
  • IR 3535 is a synthetic repellant found in some Avon products.

What about treating a bug bite?

  • 1% hydrocortisone ointments
  • Benadryl type ointments can help but can also cause irritation.
  • Antihistamines are better taken by mouth.
  • Calamine lotion is safe mildly effective
  • Ice or a cold compress will temporarily decrease itching.

2) Oral: take by mouth

  • Antihistamines: Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Zyrtec, Allegra, or Claritin type medications are all helpful to decrease itching and reactions.
  • Call your doctor if your child develops fever, rashes, or other symptoms related to an insect encounter.