Doctor Q&A

Common Summer Skin Rashes in Kids Series: Insect Bites

This is a 3-week series with Dr. Robin Schaffran, M.D., a caring mom and Pediatric Dermatologist. She is a board-certified Dermatologist and attending staff physician at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. She attended the University of Toronto Medical School where she graduated as a member of the Alpha-Omega-Alpha Honors Medical Society.

Common Summer Children Skin Rashes with Dr Robin Schaffran Pediatric Dermatologist

Rash is a common result from an insect bites, and during summer time, there are some insects that grow more, or come out during summer. There are various common insect bites, such as bed bug, mosquito bites, chigger bite.

What Insect Bites are likely for Kids?

MarcieMom: From your more than 10 years of practice, which insect bites (name two) are most common during summer, and most commonly affecting children?

Dr Robin: During the summer months, the 2 most common insect bites are mosquito bites and bee stings.

MarcieMom: How does the insect’s bite become a rash? Is it interaction with certain saliva or parts of the insect that trigger an inflammation?

Dr Robin: When an insect bites the skin it usually deposits a small amount of saliva into the skin. The rash or bump that results from the bite is due to an immune reaction in the skin directed against the foreign proteins in the saliva.

Appearance of Insect Bite Rash

MarcieMom: How is an insect bite diagnosed? And is it possible to know which insect the bite is from? Will the appearance of bites differ on eczema skin?

Dr Robin: There is a distinct look to an insect bite that makes it easy for a dermatologist to distinguish from eczema. Most bites appear as discrete red bumps that have a small spot in the center from where the insect bit. It is usually impossible to tell from the bite what insect caused the bite (other than certain spiders which result in a very distinct skin eruption).

How to Protect Your Child from Insect Bites?

MarcieMom: Can insect bite be prevented? Using insect repellent? For my toddler with eczema, I don’t put insect repellent on her (are these hypoallergenic?), instead I would put on the insect repellent patch. Are they equally effective?

Dr Robin: Insect bites are best prevented by using insect repellent. This is challenging with eczema skin because the insect repellents can irritate the skin, especially sensitive skin. If it’s not too hot, you can wear long sleeves and pants and spray the clothing with the insect repellent. Avon makes a product called ‘skin so soft’ which acts as an insect repellent (albeit not a very effective one). The repellent patches are okay but not as effective as the sprays.

Insect repellents irritate sensitive eczema skin

Treatment of Insect Bite Rash

MarcieMom: I understand that complications can occur from insect bites, such as anaphylaxis, shock, diarrhea, cramps, swelling, hives and confusion.

What are the complications that are due to the skin rash from insect bite?

Dr Robin: Most insect bites do not result in any complications other than itchy bumps that can result in a secondary skin infection from  repeated scratching.

MarcieMom: How should an insect bite be treated, and when will seeing a doctor be warranted?

Dr Robin: Insect bites are best treated with topical cortisone creams to treat the inflammation that leads to the itching. If the itching is severe or if the bite is suspected of being infected then it is best to see a doctor for evaluation and further treatment.

MarcieMom: Thank you Dr Robin, it is a very timely and protective series to know what to look out for during summer time while having fun with our children.

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