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Fact or Fiction: Bug Bites

Author: CHKD Medical Group
Published Date: Tuesday, August 01, 2017

By Dr. Elizabeth Duncan, Pediatric Associates of Williamsburg

During the summer months, bug bites can quickly ruin a day of outdoor fun. With so many common misconceptions about the prevention and treatment of insect bites and stings, we are separating fact from fiction to help you best prepare your family to handle these pesky critters:

Mosquitoes prefer certain blood types:

FICTION - Often, mosquitos are attracted to chemicals and microbes on our skin, not our blood type. Research shows that mosquitoes are also highly attracted to CO2, the gas we exhale when we breathe, and to lactic acid, which is released when we sweat. People doing physical activity, with an increased rate of breathing and sweating, are likely to receive more mosquito bites.

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.

Zika virus is most often spread from person to person through the bites of infected mosquitoes:

FACT - If a mosquito bites a person infected with Zika, the mosquito becomes infected and can pass along the virus by biting another person. People who are infected but do not have symptoms can still pass the virus to a mosquito that bites them.

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, 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 years.



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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.