It is that time of year. Great to be enjoying the outdoors with your new baby but some little insects that may cause you some concern.
Mosquitoes are flying insects that live in most parts of the world, and Bavaria is not exempt. They prefer areas where the atmosphere is damp and therefore you tend find more in areas where there is water; such as by lakes, rivers or garden ponds. Mosquitos can live both inside and outside, and tend to be more active at night. As the sun goes down the mosquitos start to bite. It is actually the female mosquito that bites you as she needs to get a blood meal to produce eggs. The most common reactions to the bite is itching and swelling; some adults and therefore it follows that some babies are more prone to being bitten by mosquitos than the next person.
What can you do to protect your baby.
Use a mosquito net over the kinderwagon to protect baby
If hiking in the woods or mountains you can buy a mosquito net to go over the baby carrier.
When dressing your baby make sure that their arms and legs are covered
Be wary of bright colour clothing as these tend to attract insects
If possible choose your hours outside wisely. Go out after dawn and before dusk.
At home consider mosquito screens on the windows to baby’s room. Be cogniscent of mosquito breeding areas in your garden such as standing water, rubbish areas/uncovered food.
Use mosquito repellent. Note that insect repellents with Deet are not recommended for babies under the age of 2 months. After two months the concentration should not be over 30% and should never be applied to the face or hands. Many parents put the spray on the clothes or on the surrounding mosquito net to prevent contact with babies skin.Don't spray the repellent anywhere near the mouth. Apply the repellent in an open area so that you and your child don't breathe it in. Be cautious of using Deet based repellents if you are breastfeeding. Always read the label.
Wash babies skin with soap and water when they come back inside, and wash all clothes before they are worn again.
Consider also using mosquito repellent patches and putting them on the inside of the kinderwagon or attached to clothes.
How to treat mosquito bites
Reduce the swelling by applying ice to the bite site.
Ease itching by applying calamine lotion to the bite site.
For older children discourage scratching. Sharp little fingernails can break the skin around a bite and let bacteria in. Soft cotton gloves can sometimes help.
Watch out for symptoms of illness/When to seek medical advice
Watch out for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling or pus.
Mosquitoes can carry disease. This is very rare in Europe, though there have been a few recorded cases of West Nile virus documented in the last couple of years. If your baby becomes ill seek medical advice and mention that they have been bitten by a mosquito recently.
What are Ticks?
Ticks are small, blood-sucking bugs. They have eight legs and are related to spiders.
They can range in size from as small as a pin’s head, but as they take in more blood the tick grows, and at its largest, ticks can be about the size of a marble.
They’re attracted to people and their four-legged pets, and they can easily move between the two. If you’ve spent any time outdoors, you have likely encountered ticks at some point.
Tick bites are often harmless, in which case they don’t cause any noticeable symptoms. However, ticks can cause allergic reactions, and certain ticks can pass diseases onto humans.
Where are ticks found
In Germany ticks are primarily found in Bavaria, and typically during the spring and summer months. They are found in brush, wooded areas and broadleaf (mostly oak) forests under 1000m.
Where do ticks bite people?
Ticks prefer warm, moist areas of the body. Once a tick gets on your body, they are likely to migrate to your armpits, groin or hair. When they are in a desirable spot, they bite into the skin and begin drawing blood.
Unlike most other bugs that bite, ticks typically remain attached to your body after they bite you.
How can you help to Prevent Tick Bites?
You can protect your child from ticks by using an insect repellent that you spray on their skin and clothes or use a repellent patch. If you are in area where there are likely to be more ticks then cover the kinderwagon with a insect net, and make sure your baby wears clothes that cover all the body and wears a hat.
Checking for Ticks.
If you have spent the day outside it is advisable to check your baby/child every evening as part of the bedtime routine. A quick check would be behind ears, hairline, in armpits, groin area and behind the knees. If you find a tick on your child you should remove it straight away.
How Can You Remove a Tick?
Hold the tick at the point closest to the child’s body between your thumb and forefinger, gently move from right to left whilst pulling the tick away from your child's body. Do not be tempted to pull straight out, often part of the tick stays in the body; also tweezers are not so effective.
Use a “tick flick” that you can buy in an Apoteke; these seem to work well; ( and are also effective on on your four legged friend!)
Place the tick in a plastic bag or other sealed container and note the date.
Clean the area of the bite with warm water and soap, and then apply an antiseptic cream or tea tree oil lotion.
Observe for signs of Lyme’s Disease (see below)
Always consult a health professional if you have any concerns.
Are Tick Bites Dangerous?
For the most part tick bites are not dangerous and once the tick is removed there is a painless red spot that goes away in a few days.
In rare cases a person/baby can have an allergic reaction to the bite. Call your doctor if your child shows any symptoms of an allergic reaction,this includes:
Sudden appearance of raised, red areas (hives) all over the body.
Rapid swelling of the throat, mouth or tongue.
In rare incidence losing consciousness or restless.
In cases of an allergic reaction always call an ambulance- 112
Lyme’ disease is an infection caused by the bite of a deer tick that is carrying a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is important to note that not every tick is infected with the disease, so just because your baby suffers a bite doesn’t mean they will contract Lyme disease.
The incubation period from when a child gets a tick bite to when the symptoms of Lyme disease occur can vary from 3 -32 days.
The most common sign of early localised Lyme disease in children is a rash that appears at the site of the tick bite. It typically begins as a red mark and then widens over days or weeks to form a large, red, circular rash, often with a white center that makes it look like a target or bullseye. It’s usually painless and not itchy. Other signs of Lyme disease are:
possible low grade fever
cranky and irritable
disrupted sleep pattern
older children may complain of fatigue, body aches and headache.
It is important that if you have concerns after tick bite to seek medical advice. Lyme's disease is diagnosed by a blood test, this cannot be taken straight after the bite as it takes a few days to be detected in the blood stream. Treatment is antibiotic therapy.
Wasp and bee stings can cause similar symptoms, but the treatment measures are slightly different. When a bee stings, they leave their stingers in the skin and then it dies. On the other hand, a wasp stings repeatedly until they are shooed away.
A normal local reaction to a bee or wasp sting is:
instant pain at the site of the sting that is sharp,
burning that usually lasts a few seconds.
a swollen red mark that can be itchy and painful.
What to Do
Remove any stingers right away. Often the easiest way is to scrape it away with a credit card if you have one to hand.
Applying ice to provide some mild relief and continue applying every 20 minutes as needed. Do not put ice straight onto babies skin but wrap the ice in a towel or a cloth.
Apply an antihistamine cream.
Calamine lotion can help to relieve itching.
Be Aware of an Allergic reaction
Signs of an allergic reaction include:
Hives that appear as a red, itchy rash and spread to areas beyond the sting
Swelling of the face, throat, or any part of the mouth or tongue
Wheezing or trouble swallowing
Restlessness and anxiety
Older children may complain of dizziness, stomach cramps, nausea, or diarrohea
If you are suspicious of an allergic reaction CALL 112