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Father and son fishing together

Fact or Fiction: Bug Bites

By Dr. Sara Smith, Suffolk Pediatrics

During the summer months, bug bites can quickly ruin a day of outdoor fun. With so many misconceptions about preventing and treating insect bites and stings, knowing fact from fiction can help you prepare your family to handle these pesky critters.

Some people are particularly irresistible to mosquitoes:

FACT - Research shows that a variety of factors play into where mosquitoes prefer to get their next meal. Factors can include:

  • Blood type. Generally speaking, research shows mosquitoes prefer individuals with type O blood.
  • Your breathing. Mosquitoes are highly attracted to CO2, the gas we exhale when we breathe.
  • Your smell. Smells emitted in sweat such as lactic acid and ammonia can attract mosquitoes. Certain bacteria on your skin can also alter your scent.
  • Color of your clothes. Mosquitoes use their eyes to target victims, and wearing darker colors makes you an easier target.

Scratching only makes it worse:

FACT - Scratching will not make the itching go away. In fact, it could make it worse. If you scratch too much and tear the skin, you can cause an infection. If you are intensely bothered by an insect bite, you can apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream for the itch and use an ice pack to numb the area and reduce swelling.

Both male and female mosquitoes bite:

FICTION - Only female mosquitoes bite. They use the protein from the blood they take to develop their eggs. The male mosquito only feeds on nectar from flowers.

It’s best to squeeze out a bee stinger:

FICTION - Removing a bee stinger as quickly as possible is the best option for quick relief, but squeezing is not the best method. Scraping the area with a fingernail, credit card, or item with a dulled edge will prevent more venom from being released.

Repellents containing DEET will cause health problems for children:

FICTION - Insect repellents containing DEET have been tested and approved safe for kids over the age of 2 months, but they are still a form of pesticide, and parents should take precautions. Be sure to follow all instructions listed on the label. Do not apply repellent to children’s hands because they may transfer it to their mouths, and repellents with DEET are not recommended for children younger than 2 months.



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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.