Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

by Florence Cardinal Patient Expert

It's annoying for anyone to have a buzzing mosquito flying around the room. They land for an instant, never long enough to swat them, but just enough to arouse, then off they go again for another circle of the room. This is not only irritating to a child but can be downright frightening.

To help keep mosquitoes and other flying insects out of the house, make sure doors are closed quickly. Don't stand and chat with a neighbor with the door open. Window screens should be of a fine mesh. Some mosquitoes are very tiny and can gain entrance through the wider mesh screens.

Unfortunately, another class of insect that is harder to keep out is the midges or, as they are sometimes called, no-see-'ums. They are so tiny that no screen can keep them out. Their bite is painful and annoying, especially when you can't even see what's biting you.

Spraying the room with a bug killer helps. Be sure to do this when your children and pets are away from the room and well before bedtime. Another good idea is the use of citronella candles. However, never leave them burning unattended. You can also apply a bug repellant to your child at bedtime.

Another flying insect that can be a bit intimidating to a child is a giant moth fluttering against the screen, or even worse, in the room. Where I come from these are called Miller moths and they are attracted to the light. Swarms of them congregate around porch lights and will fly into the house when the door is opened.

If your child sleeps with a light on or if there's a light right outside the window, it will attract moths. Once the light is off, they will disperse to look for another source of light.

Bugs flying around your head are bad enough, but what if they decide to get right into bed with you or with your child?

Bedbugs are making a serious return. They're invading hotels, homes, and anywhere else they can get their annoying little bodies into. An
interesting article by Don Marks of the Winnipeg Free Press tells of one man's experience with the obnoxious bugs. If bedbugs are nibbling on your child in the night, there are several methods of control, from sprays to less toxic methods.

Fleas can also be irritating and can easily find the way into a child's bed. Sand fleas can be picked up in the playground, on the beach or in the park. Your pets, both dogs and cats, are also carriers of fleas.

Methods of eradication include spraying with insecticides and the use of flea collars on your pets. In really bad infestations, it may be necessary to call in the exterminator.

There are several varieties of lice, including body, head and pubic varieties. All cause severe itching and can disturb sleep. They can be eradicated with the use of creams from your doctor or drugstore. All clothing and bedding should be washed thoroughly and it may be necessary to spray bedding. There are special shampoos for head lice, and again, bedding should be washed. Lice in the pubic hair can also be treated with special shampoo.

Chiggers are the larvae of a type of mite found in tall grass and weeds. They may not get into the bed, but if bitten, your child may be kept awake by the severe itching the bites cause. Ask your druggist about creams and ointments to control the itching.

Scabies is a contagious skin disease caused by a very small mite. There is really no home remedy to control an outbreak of scabies. Ask your doctor about prescription creams. Sometimes an oral antihistamine is prescribed.

Bugs in the air, in the bed, on your body - or, even worse, how about in your body? There are dozens of parasites that can attack the body, but for our purposes here, I want to deal with just one - pinworms.

The pinworm is a common intestinal parasitic infection that primarily affects children. It's often passed from child to child by contact with hands unwashed after a bowel movement. Pinworms can also be passed through other contaminated items including bedding or food.

Pinworms can cause intense itching around the anus that can become severe enough to disturb a child's sleep. If one person in the household is infested with pinworms, it's possible other family members may be as well. It's safest to treat everyone to prevent re-infestation.

Anti-parasitic medication is available for this. Talk to your doctor. To help prevent the spread of pinworms, always wash hands after going to the bathroom, and encourage your children to also do this. Wash bedding often, and be sure all underclothing is washed thoroughly when battling an infestation of pinworms.

If your child can't sleep at night, be sure he or she has been 'de-bugged"

Florence Cardinal
Meet Our Writer
Florence Cardinal

Florence wrote for HealthCentral as patient expert for Sleep Disorders.