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For a parent, the sounds of summer can change in an instant. One minute it’s the laughter and squeals of peaceful play, and the next, a shriek or piercing scream that signals a bee sting, a spider bite or the elusive mosquito that has attached to your child’s skin. And since you can’t roll your kiddos in bubble wrap before you send them outside, you should know how to treat minor creepy crawler bites.

Minor bug bites and stings can be safely treated at home with topical medication, such as hydrocortisone cream or ointment, or an oral antihistamine to reduce the itch.

To treat bug bites and stings at home, try these tips from the American Academy of Dermatology Association.

  1. For painful bites and bee stings, give them an over-the-counter painkiller like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Always follow the directions on the label and use the correct dose.
  2. For bites that itch, apply an ice pack or over-the-counter anti-itch cream like hydrocortisone, or give them an over-the-counter oral antihistamine.
  3. To reduce swelling, apply an ice pack to the bite.

To treat a sting from a bee, hornet or wasp, dermatologists offer the following tips.

  1. Stay calm. If your child is stung, have them calmly walk away from the area to prevent additional attacks.
  2. Remove the stinger. If the stinger is still in the skin, remove it by scraping over it with your fingernail or piece of gauze. Never use tweezers — squeezing it can cause more venom to be released into the skin. Save the tweezers for removing ticks.
  3. Wash the sting with soap and water.
  4. Apply a cold pack to reduce swelling.
  5. Consider an over-the-counter medication. A painkiller like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve the ouch.

Call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately if your child experiences difficulty breathing, dizziness, vomiting, headache, rash, fever, chest pain, swollen lips and tongue, or a sensation that the throat is closing.

Ask the emergency room physician to send a report to your child’s pediatrician.

Before your kids head outside, use a kid-safe insect repellent, dress them in appropriate clothing, use bed nets if sleeping outdoors, and pay attention to outbreaks in the area.