How to deal with bug and spider bites this spring
BATON ROUGE - With the temperatures warming back up as spring prepares to collide with summer, kids are out in the Great Outdoors and parents are facing the inevitability of children who encounter stings and bites from insects that are active in the warmer months.
Pediatrician Dr. Mindy Calandro of the Baton Rouge Clinic visited News 2 at 4 to talk about some ways you can be prepared when babies and children are affected by potentially painful bites or stings. She says that the least poisonous of these "boo boos" can be salved with a hug and a kiss, but attacks from more dangerous insects or arachnids can require serious medical attention.
She says, fortunately, the most dangerous bites come from spiders, but this is relatively uncommon. The notorious black widow and brown recluse are the most obvious culprits of concern here, and these spiders are native to Louisiana. Common symptoms associated with these bites are immediate pain, burning, swelling and redness around the site of the bite. Other symptoms include chills, fever, nausea and vomiting accompanied by severe abdominal pain. Black widow bites are rarely fatal, but brown recluse bites have been known to be fatal in rare cases. The possibility of death by brown recluse increases in children, according to the doctor.
Of course, if notable symptoms occur, bring your child to a doctor as soon as possible, but Dr. Calandro says there some things you can do yourself to help. Firstly, it's important to clean the wound thoroughly as you would any other abrasion. You can also tie a snug bandage around the affected limb, if the bite is on an arm or leg, to slow the spread of venom. Applying a cloth dampened with cold water or filled with ice is also a good thing to do to sooth the injured child while you seek out professional medical attention. Dr. Calandro says health experts treat brown recluse spider bites with various medications.
Bee stings are also a special area of concern, especially for parents of children who are allergic to the poison. Numerous stings on an allergic child can quickly lead to a serious reaction that requires immediate emergency treatment. These stings are accompanied by a burning pain, a red welt and a small amount of swelling. Children who are having a stronger reaction often display extreme redness and severe pain with more swelling than non-allergic victims. Anaphylaxis is the term for the severe reaction in allergic patients, according to Dr. Calandro. For most bee stings on children with a normal reaction to the stinger, an ice pack or cool compress does the trick. Dr. Calandro says you can even mix one part meat tenderizer solution with four parts water to create a mixture that you can soak a cotton ball in and apply to the bite for 15 to 20 minutes to reduce swelling. Baking soda paste and calamine lotion are good alternatives. If your child is allergic, Dr. Calandro stresses that having an EpiPen handy is an absolute necessity. Use these as directed by your pediatrician. With all bites or stings, it's important to keep an eye out for signs of infection in the days that follow.
Lastly, and perhaps most common among spring and summer pests, comes the extremely annoying mosquito. The usual reaction accompanied with a bite from these beasts is local skin inflammation that is red, raised and incredibly itchy. Again, it is important to watch your children for signs of infection at the location of the bite as scratching can make this worse. To ease the pain and the itch associated with mosquito bites, you can apply anti-itch creams like calamine as needed. Dr. Calandro says you can follow this up with anti-inflammatory creams such as cortisone to ease inflammation and incessant itching. Cold compresses can also help out here as well, along with giving the child an impression that they are being looked out for. To keep mosquito bites at bay, choose an insect repellant with DEET in it, but be sure to chose a product with a DEET concentration that is safe for your children. These types of repellants are generally also effective at keeping away gnats, flies and other pesky bugs so they are an excellent choice when heading outdoors at times like dusk when these pests are most active. For children, the EPA recommends a concentration of 10 percent or less to prevent side effects and toxicity.
Check out the video above to learn more about Dr. Calandro's tips and tricks for keeping your kids content when outdoors this spring.