One of the frustrations that comes with itchy rashes is something doctors call the “itch scratch cycle.” The process goes like this: A rash itches so we scratch it. Although the scratching makes the itch go away, it can irritate the skin causing the itch to recur. This can lead to itch-scratch-itch-scratch, etc. Eventually, the skin can become so irritated that scratching the area actually hurts. The best way to deal with this is to put something cold on the itchy/painful area for 5 to 10 minutes. Of course, not getting into this bind is even better.

If your child starts to scratch a bug bite, you can use 1% hydrocortisone ointment (not cream) and a “dot” Band-Aid to stop the itch. First, put a small amount of the ointment on the bite. Second, open the Band-Aid and briefly stick it to your shirt or pants. (This takes some of the adhesive off the bandage so your child is less likely to complain when you remove it.) Third, place the Band-Aid on the bite and leave it in place for about 15 minutes. You can repeat this up to three times a day for four or five days if necessary. Facial skin is thinner than skin on the rest of the body, so don’t use Band-Aids for facial bug bites. The hydrocortisone can still help, but you shouldn’t use it for more than three days.

If the bite gets very red or develops discharge, call your doctor to make sure it hasn’t become infected.