treating bug bites & insect stings

Sensible advice for treating bug bites and insect stings whether on a family vacation or chilling in your backyard.


How to deal with bites and stings when camping, hiking, or spending time outdoors with your kids.

In warmer months, bug bites and insect stings can put a damper on your travel plans, particularly if anyone in your family has bug and insect related allergies. Let us help you avoid and manage annoying itches and painful stings with these helpful tips:

Prevention Tips

Here are some basic steps to take to keep bugs away:
  • Avoid using scented soaps, perfumes,and hair sprays, or wearing brightly-colored clothes, or clothing with flowered patterns, as they can attract insects.

  • When traveling in wooded areas, areas with tall grass, or wherever there are blooming flowers or large pools of standing water, children and adults should wear insect repellant containing no more than 30 percent DEET.

  • DEET repellant should be applied to exposed skin on arms, legs but it should never be applied to the face

  • Thoroughly saturate clothing, including shoes, socks and hats
DEET: Handling Tips

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers the following guidelines on using DEET:

  • Apply DEET sparingly on exposed skin
  • Do not use under clothing and do not use DEET on the hands of young children
  • Do not use DEET over cuts, wounds or irritated skin
  • After returning indoors, bathe thoroughly with warm soapy water to remove DEET from treated skin
  • Launder all treated clothing
  • Avoid spraying in enclosed areas and never use DEET near food or beverages

After a Bite or Sting

A bite or sting can be a scary moment for parents and kids, but here's what you can do to treat them and calm your child:
  • Keep an Epi-pen on hand if anyone in your family is allergic to bee stings, they contain epinephrine that can be quickly administered to prevent anaphylactic shock from a sting. You can find them in the first aid section at your local drugstore or pharmacy.

  • If your child loses consciousness after receiving a bug bite or sting, seek immediate medical attention.

  • Immediately apply an ice pack to the site of a bite or sting (as soon as possible) to help reduce swelling and pain.

  • Aloe vera gel, a paste made from baking soda and water, or old-fashioned calamine lotion can provide soothing relief to bites and stings.

  • Avoid excessive scratching of bites as welts can become infected.

  • If a bite welt becomes infected, seek immediate medical attention.

Lyme Disease: How to Avoid Getting It

When traveling in woodlands or areas with tall grasses help prevent family members from contracting tick-borne diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme Disease, by taking the following precautions:
  • Wear long sleeves and pants (tuck pant legs into light colored socks).

  • Use string ties to keep sleeves and pant legs closed.

  • Check all family members at the end of the day for ticks, looking closely in places that are warm and moist (arm pits and crotches are favorite areas where ticks tend to hide).
The Walter Reed Army Medical Center advises seeing a doctor if you or your child develop any of the following symptoms:
  • Loss of appetite or a feeling of illness one or two days after being bitten
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • A bull's-eye shape rash on the wrists, ankles, trunk, limbs or face
For a host of information on ticks, visit the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine.
Important Disclaimer: This information is not meant as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a doctor with questions about your or your child's condition. does not recommend or endorse specific tests, products, procedures, opinions, or other information provided by any sponsors or other third parties. Please also see's Terms of Use.

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