Most Read: Wellness

Why Yoga is Good for Kids

Little Cecilia Kocan, age 5, sat perfectly still, meditating... Read more

Chatting About Online Safety

Nowadays kids of all ages are connecting with friends and fa... Read more

Zits for Grown-Ups

Cafeteria cliques may be a distant memory, but if you’re sti... Read more

Nuts About Nuts

Holiday vacation time is approaching, and I already feel lik... Read more

The Dirt on Dirt

“Don’t track mud in the house!” “Wash your hands before din... Read more

Make Sleep a Priority

  Parents often use bedtime stories and other peaceful... Read more

Family + Sports = Fun

Fitness starts early—from a child’s first steps! When Mom an... Read more

Bringing Home Baby

As a parent-to-be, you are probably feeling overwhelmed as y... Read more

To Cell or Not to Cell

My husband and I were sitting on the couch chatting one nigh... Read more

Concerned about Fever?

One the most common reasons I see a child in my office is fo... Read more

Walking the Middle Path

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a relatively new appro... Read more

Let's Move

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in Amer... Read more

Mild Concussions

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to Dave Baron, DO, ... Read more

Good-for-You Recipes

When I was little, my parents didn’t dress up my vegetables ... Read more

Plan a Summer Cookout

Some of my favorite summer memories were times when my dad b... Read more

Planning for Summer

This is the time of year that families think about the end o... Read more

Fitting in Fitness

When was the last time you played with your children—really ... Read more

Water Safety Skills

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the United... Read more

Grieving & Growing

Has your child ever reacted intensely when you are out of he... Read more

Eat Your Veggies!

Summer’s bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables offers a... Read more

Keep in Touch

Don't miss out monthly newsletter for special articles and subscriber-only benefits and promos.

Select your desired subscription below.


2017 Jun

Got an Itchy Kid?

I just got back from vacation. It was great….sandy beaches, beautiful ocean, and oh yes, the bug bites. I started thinking about things that make kids itch and what you can do about it.

Protect against sunburn by applying sunscreen on children (over 6 months) with an SPF of at least 15 that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every 2 hours or more often if swimming or sweating. Despite our best parenting efforts, kids can get sunburned. A mild sunburn (without blisters) can be managed at home. Cool compresses and application of aloe soothes discomfort. Encourage plenty of fluids. See your healthcare provider if your child acts ill, starts vomiting, or has blisters.

Atopic Dermatitis
This is dry, sensitive skin, which is better known as eczema. This can flare in the summer as the sun dries the skin further. Kids can get thickened, discolored skin which itches. The key is to moisturize. I recommend dye-free, fragrance-free soaps, lotions, and detergents. A moisturizer can be applied 4 times a day and works better if covered with an emollient (like Vaseline).

Rhus Dermatitis
Several plants in the Tidewater area will cause a rash. Poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and Virginia creeper are common. These plants have an oily surface, which acts as a skin irritant, causing a rash and intense itching. If you are exposed, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water to remove any residual oil, which can spread the rash. Launder clothing, and be mindful to wipe off shoes and laces. Oral children’s Benadryl will decrease itching but may cause drowsiness. Applying calamine lotion helps to dry the rash. Alternatively, over-the-counter hydrocortisone can be used in pea-sized amounts on limited areas (avoiding the face) twice daily for a week. If the rash spreads, doesn’t improve, or is on the face or privates, see your healthcare provider.

Scabies are caused by the microscopic itch mite. It is passed from person to person by skin-to-skin contact. A rash forms, which itches severely after about 2 weeks. The bumps occur in lines as the insect travels beneath the skin. In children, the rash may be between the fingers, under the arms, or at the beltline. The itching is often more intense at bedtime. If you are concerned that your child may have scabies, see your healthcare professional. This is treated with a prescription medication. Prevent scabies by avoiding the sharing of clothing, towels, or sleeping surfaces.

Insect Bites
Insect bites are annoying and itchy, but rarely dangerous. Keep the area clean and dry. Over-the-counter hydrocortisone can be used in pea-sized amounts on limited areas (avoiding the face) twice daily for up to a week to help with the itch. Some children will have swelling with bites. If you child has a fever, significant swelling, or pain with a bug bite, see your healthcare provider. If your child has a bee allergy, keep your epinephrine auto-injector available. Prevent bites by coming in at dusk or using a 10-30 percent DEET insect repellant (on children over 2 months). Wash the repellant off before bedtime. Wash hands before eating. Empty standing water in your yard. Wearing long sleeves and long pants helps prevent bites as well.

Jellyfish Sting
Anyone in the ocean may come in contact with a jellyfish. Jellyfish stings can be painful and may be dangerous. They have tentacles with tiny stingers containing venom. Although rarely lethal, it’s not a fun experience. You may see long red streaks on your child. He or she will have itching, swelling, and pain. First, use a credit card to scrape off any remaining stingers. (Don’t rub with a towel or use fresh water on these.) Make a paste using salt water (from the ocean) and baking soda and pat it onto the affected area. (Take note all parents: pack baking soda in the beach bag!)

If this isn’t working and the pain persists, seek immediate medical care. Applying white wine vinegar may help to deactivate the stingers; however, sometimes this may worsen the pain. Next apply an ice pack to decrease swelling and pain. A cool can of soda works nicely. Seek medical care for any sting that seems severe. Severe reactions need immediate medical care, so dial 911.

Avoid the itch this summer and have a safe, healthy, happy summer!

Dr. Melanie J. Wilhelm DNP CPNP is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, and a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Pediatric Specialists in Norfolk. Her first book, Raising Today’s Baby, is available on Amazon or at You may email her at Follow her on facebook and twitter @DrMelanie4kids.

You May Also Enjoy