Bug bites are a nuisance regardless of your age, but it can be particularly difficult seeing your baby or toddler dealing with the discomfort associated with bites from mosquitoes and other common insects. Symptoms of bug bites in kids include:
- Localized hives
- Small, red bump
Babies and toddlers are more sensitive than older children, so not all bug bite treatments are safe and effective for kids under 2-years of age. Below, we look at some easy, safe ways to treat bug bites in toddlers and when to seek medical attention.
Ways To Treat A Toddler’s Bug Bite
In most cases, bug bites aren’t severe and can easily be treated with at-home and / or over-the-counter remedies, including the following.
Using a cold compress on the bug bite helps number the skin, which can provide immediate, short-term relief. You can use a cold pack, damp cloth, or a bag filled with ice to offer your child a natural solution for their discomfort. However, don’t leave the cold compress on for more than a few minutes, as it can irritate the skin.
Antihistamines are a type of drug that can mitigate the symptoms of allergies. Common examples of these over-the-counter medications include Benadryl, Claritin, and Allegra.
As What to Expect explains, antihistamines are usually okay for children ages 2 and older, but should not be given to younger toddlers and babies without explicit direction from a medical provider. Regardless of your child’s age, you should check with your doctor before offering them a new medication, even an over-the-counter one.
There are a variety of things around the house you can use to alleviate the symptoms of a bug bite, including pain and itchiness. Healthline recommends applying any of the following ingredients to your child’s bug bite:
- Aloe vera
- Baking soda
- Lemon balm
- Witch hazel
- Chamomile tea
Be aware that not all of these ingredients may be suitable for your toddler, depending on if they have allergies or are prone to skin irritation. Consider asking your doctor for their professional opinion before using one of these at-home remedies.
Bug bite creams
There are also tons of bug bite creams and ointments on the market aimed at reducing side effects like itching and redness. Some of these are made specifically for young kids. Healthline explains it’s safe to apply a 1% hydrocortisone cream (which contains a steroid) to a baby or toddler’s bug bite. You can do this several times a day until the bug bite has healed.
We suggest speaking to your doctor before using a new lotion on your baby. Additionally, read all the instructions carefully and never put a lotion on your child if it’s not deemed safe for their age range.
When To Seek Medical Help
In rare instances, it is possible to go into anaphylaxis shock from a bug bite. This is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction, which can develop within seconds or minutes of the allergen. Other times, it can take a few hours to develop.
According to Cedars Sinai Hospital, symptoms of anaphylaxis in children can include:
- Trouble breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Tightness in throat
- Severe skin irritation
- Lowered blood pressure
- Loss of bladder control
The risk of anaphylaxis is higher in children with a history of allergies, asthma, or severe allergic reactions. It’s also more common in families with a history of these factors.
Following a bug bite, Seattle Children’s Hospital advises parents to seek medical attention immediately if their child has signs like:
- Slurred speech
- Trouble swallowing
- Hoarse voice, cough
- Tightness in the chest
- Swelling all over the body
- Acts or talks with confusion
- Difficulty waking up or staying awake
These symptoms can be a sign of anaphylaxis or another complication from the bug bite, and you should seek medical attention pronto. Additionally, if your toddler’s condition worsens in the hours and days after the bite (for example, if the bug bite is getting larger or the child is in increasing pain), get medical help immediately.
Finally, remember that it’s also important to take steps to prevent bug bites before they happen. This can include avoiding heavily scented soaps and perfumes, covering legs and arms when possible, using child-safe insect repellant, and avoiding brightly colored clothing. Please speak to your doctor for more information.
Sources: Cedars Sinai Hospital, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Healthline, Healthline, What to Expect, Children’s,