Parent spraying child with bug spray in the woods
Seasonal Tips, Children's Health

Insect Bites Create Discomfort

It’s summer, and in Delaware we need to know how to deal with the creepy, crawly insects that can be annoying and more. While those bites may not be a serious health hazard, they can be itchy, uncomfortable and may cause illnesses.

Antonio D. Zarraga, MD, with Bayhealth Primary Care, Milford, suggests that prevention – using an insect repellant containing DEET – may lessen negative insect contacts. “It’s safe for children older than 2 years old, and it lasts 4-5 hours. Don’t be afraid of DEET,” he said.

  • Mosquitoes: Dr. Zarraga also suggests that people need to be aware that mosquitoes are most active in early morning and at dusk. Unless patients have a serious allergic reaction to mosquito bites, one that requires an EpiPen, Dr. Zarraga suggests a topical treatment, such as Calamine lotion or a steroid ointment, or taking an antihistamine like Zyrtec at night, to calm the itch of mosquito bites.
  • Ticks: In addition to mosquitoes, residents need to be aware of ticks. “We are an endemic area for Lyme disease,” he said, noting that Delaware ranks 8th nationally for Lyme disease. Once again, prevention, as the adage goes, is worth the effort. Wear clothing to cover all exposed areas when outdoors.

Check for ticks right away, and gently remove them with tweezers. “Don’t smother them nail polish or Vaseline,” he said.

There are several kinds of ticks in Delaware, and they are potential carriers of tick-borne illnesses in addition to Lyme disease. But contact with a tick does not necessarily result in disease developing. “It takes some time,” Dr. Zarraga explained, adding that if bitten, people need to watch the area for three days. “Three days is the golden time to treat. Before that, just wait. The Lyme rash, (characterized by redness with a bulls-eye center) takes two weeks to a month after the bite to present. It takes a month for the antibodies to develop, to show up in a blood test, so we don’t test until a month later.” However, Dr. Zarraga said patients do not have to be tested to be treated. “Less than 50 percent of people have the rash,” he said.

If you or a family member is in need of doctor, visit Bayhealth's Find a Doctor page or call 1-866-BAY-DOCS (229-3627) to be matched with a doctor who meets your needs.

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