Bug bites with Children’s of Alabama expert Dr. Jolly

A news anchor swatting a bug away.
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A news anchor swatting a bug away.
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I don’t know about you, but as soon as I get my first bug bite, I know that summer has officially arrived.

Children’s of Alabama wants you to stay safe by preventing those pesky bites and treating any bad ones. Dr. Joseph Jolly of Greenvale Pediatrics offers his expertise on bug bites.  Let’s see what he had to say.

Mosquitos
Image of a mosquito!
photo via Mosquitno

During the summer, I can not seem to walk outside without getting bitten by a mosquito.

Jolly isn’t wrong in saying, “For a typical mosquito bite, you will experience redness, swelling and general discomfort.”

Normally, the bite isn’t something to worry about, but it is important to prevent the bite from getting infected.

“The bite can be treated from home.” Jolly says, “To prevent it from getting infected, it is important not to pick at or scratch the bite. To do so, you can cover the bite, as well as use a topical steroid cream such as hydrocortisone or Benadryl.”

That advice extends beyond mosquito bites to include most bug bites or stings.

Prevention: Avoid being around water sources at night; that is when mosquitos are the most likely to bite.

Bees and Wasps
Image of a bee and wasp side-by-side.
photo via Golden Eagle Pest Solutions

“With wasps, yellow jackets, bees and hornets, there is more of a chance of having an allergic reaction,” Jolly says.

If you have an allergic reaction to any bug bite, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Jolly described a true allergic reaction as, “breaking out in hives everywhere, swelling around the mouth, drooling or salivating, difficulty breathing, wheezing, or vomiting.”

He added, “Just because you haven’t had an allergic reaction before, doesn’t mean it won’t happen at a different time.”

It’s true. One time, my dad got an ant bite that caused him to swell up like Will Smith from the movie, “Hitch.” Allergic reactions are no joke.

Gif of Will Smith from Hitch and his allergic reaction.
via Tenor

Prevention: Do not disturb bee or wasp nests, and do not swat at buzzing insects. They will sting if they feel threatened.

Spiders
Image of a spider.
via Orkin

Jolly offered solid advice on spiders, “The biggest concern with spider bites is when they cause skin infections.

More often than not, people think an infected bug bite is a spider bite. You do not have to be concerned about typical house spiders, but you should look out for black widows or brown recluse spiders.”

Prevention: Be aware that spiders might be hiding in undisturbed piles of wood, seldom-opened boxes or corners behind furniture, and proceed with caution. (via Kids Health)

Ticks
Ew- it's a tick.
photo via Littourati

Ticks are sneaky little creatures. As Jolly said, “Bug bites are part of daily life around here, but people worry about ticks because sometimes you do not notice when you have been bitten by a tick.”

Overall, most tick bites are harmless. But deer ticks, wood ticks, and some others may carry harmful diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease.

That is why it is important to remove the tick as soon as possible. In fact, if the tick has been on the skin for longer than 24 hours, part of the tick remains on the skin after removal or there are symptoms of infection; then you should seek medical attention promptly.

Prevention: Avoid wooded areas with high grass, wear long sleeves or pants and check for ticks immediately upon returning inside.

 Other Tips from Dr. Joseph Jolly
  • Keep your child’s nails trimmed short to prevent them from scratching the bite.
  • Put longer clothes, such as pants or a long-sleeve shirt, on your kids for when they sleep- sometimes they scratch bites in their sleep.
  • Bug bite infections will typically happen two to three days after the initial bite. If you see redness, pain, heat or drainage two to three days later, that should definitely be evaluated. However, most insect bites are just a nuisance.
  • The most important thing is to be aware. Know where your kids are, know what they are doing and be proactive to prevent bites from happening in the first place.
  • The Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama is also a good resource for questions about possibly toxic or venomous insects. Like us, the RPCC recommends removal of stinger (bee) or spines/hairs (caterpillars), cool compresses, antihistamines, and corticosteroids.
  • In fact, the RPCC recently developed an app called “Poison Perils” to help children and parents learn to identify possibly toxic or venomous insects, animals and plants in Alabama, especially members of the Hymenoptera family (bees, wasps, etc.), ants, caterpillars etc. The app is available for Apple and android devices.