Could It Be Bug Bites or Rash?

We are in the midst of summer and that means vacations, camping trips and quality time spent outdoors. With that also come a slew of skin irritations that can occur from bug bites to poison ivy. I’ve seen many parents as of recent with concerns about the red spots that appear on their babies. To shed some light on this I’m going to cover if those skin irritations could be brought on by bug bites or rash.


You go out and spend the afternoon enjoying some fun in the sun; the next morning your child wakes up covered with large, itchy, red bumps. I know this all too well from personal experience, and it appears I’m not alone. Summer time is prime time when bothersome pests become more prevalent, such as mosquitoes and fleas. It is also the time when exposure to certain irritants like poison ivy or environmental factors like the heat can bring on skin problems. In this article I will go over what to look for in determining the skin irritation to treatment options and when to see a doctor.

Identifying Bug Bites

mosquitoEveryone reacts differently to bug bites from the specific culprit that caused them to their body’s natural defense, but one thing that is certain is they can be very bothersome. While some people hardly seem affected from bug bites, others can suffer tremendously. Allergies to a particular species of insect can also affect how a person reacts. Bug bites usually appear as small, red bumps that may be raised or large welts. Here are some other common characteristics of bites caused from insects:

• Redness
• Itching
• Pain around the area that’s infected
• Hot to the touch
• Swelling

Bug bites can be easily treated at home with the use of an anti-itch cream for the discomfort, as well as an antihistamine to help with swelling and itching. A cool compress applied to the affected area can offer soothing relief as well. Always consult with your child’s doctor if you have any concerns regarding medications and dosage instructions, especially if your child has pre-existing conditions or currently on medications.

When to See a Doctor

An allergic or severe reaction to bug bites may require medical attention. If the bites appear longer than a few weeks, consult with your pediatrician. See your doctor or seek immediate medical treatment if your child is experiencing any of the following:

• Fever
• Trouble breathing
• Rapid heartbeat
• Swelling in the lips or throat
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Loss of consciousness

Some parasites can carry serious, even fatal, diseases so be sure to monitor your child closely after they’ve been bitten. If your child appears to feel sick or experience flu-like symptoms you should call your pediatrician right away.

Identifying a Rash

When children spend time in the great outdoors they may come into contact with certain irritants that can cause a rash, like poison ivy. Another factor that may be of concern is a heat rash, particularly in infants who are more susceptible.

Heat Rash

This typically occurs as a result of young children, especially babies, who may be overdressed in warmer environments. It can be present on their neck, shoulders, armpits, trunk and groin appearing as tiny red bumps or possibly clear blisters. A heat rash is usually harmless and clears up easily by keeping your child cool. Dress kids appropriately for warmer weather and change diapers frequently to minimize diaper rash, which thrives from moisture and heat.

Poison Ivypoison ivy

It may be hard to tell if your child has come into contact with poison ivy, especially if you didn’t witness them touching it. If your child suddenly develops a rash that is red, itchy and swollen with blisters that may appear streaky after spending some time outside near bushes and plants it’s quite likely that it’s poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. Here are some other characteristics commonly associated with the rash:

• Outbreak of small blisters
• Patchy or streaky bumps
• Redness
• Swelling
• Itching

The rash can quickly spread to other areas of the body from contact with the infected area so it’s vital to thoroughly rinse the skin immediately after contact to prevent further irritation. This goes for clothing that may have come into contact with the plant as well. Treatment for rashes associated with poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac generally consists of applying topical creams such as calamine lotion, bathing in an oatmeal bath, and an oral antihistamine for the itching.

When to See the Doctor

In most cases, the symptoms of a rash associated with such plants usually clears up with in a week or two. Additional medical treatment may be necessary in more severe instances. Call your child’s doctor about the rash if:

• It gets worse or lasts longer than 7-10 days
• It appears to be infected
• Your child is experiencing pain

If your child appears to have a severe allergic reaction from exposure to certain poisonous plants such as difficulty breathing and/or swallowing or swelling of the lips or throat, seek immediate medical attention.

There are ways your child can avoid becoming a victim of bug bites or rash with a few preventative measures. If you are in a heavily wooded area or live in a region where pests are common, apply an insect repellant to your child before going out. Always supervise your children around shrubs and bushes and be able to identify poisonous plants so your child can steer clear of them. Limit time outside and try to avoid tall grass and damp areas where bugs are more prevalent.

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