Top Treatments for Kids’ Bee Stings and Bug Bites
Has your child had a run-in with one of Mother Nature’s pests? Discover when to worry and when to relax.
Summertime brings outdoor fun, but can also lead to run-ins with creepy crawlers. When your child gets stung or bitten by a bug, you just want to make it better as soon as possible. How do you know if it’s improving on its own or needs a doctor’s attention? Emergency physician Baruch Fertel, MD, helps you find all the answers you need to survive the bugs of summer.
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Pain, redness and swelling around the site of a bee or wasp sting is normal. Swelling may extend beyond the sting site — such as to the whole leg from a sting on the ankle. Bee or wasp stings usually itch, too.
Remove the bee’s stinger as soon as possible. Clean the area and apply ice. You can then use calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to ease the itching. “If your child complains of pain, consult your pediatrician to see if you should give an antihistamine,” Dr. Fertel says.
In rare cases, your child may develop anaphylactic shock if they have an allergy to bee stings. If your child has allergies to other things, such as pollen, dust, or has asthma, it might be worth talking to your pediatrician about allergy testing during bee season.
“If your child does have an allergy to bees, you may be prescribed an EpiPen®. Make sure to keep it with you when outdoors. Antihistamines may also be helpful,” Dr. Fertel says.
Get emergency treatment ASAP. While severe allergic reactions aren’t that common, they can lead to anaphylactic shock, cardiac arrest and unconsciousness in 10 minutes or less. This type of reaction may be life-threatening or even fatal.
Itching, swelling and red lumps are typical — but welts may vary in size from barely noticeable to near softball-sized. Although quite pesky, mosquito bites are rarely serious.
Most mosquito bites don’t require any treatment. Encourage your kids not to scratch them. You can also apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to help with the itching. An antihistamine may help if your child is really bothered by the itching, but consult your pediatrician first.
Mosquito bites can be a problem if your kids refuse to leave them alone. Help your kiddos resist the itch by covering bites with a bandage. If an infection seems to arise, call your pediatrician. Signs of infection include:
Call your child’s pediatrician for advice if you notice any of these symptoms. Allergic reactions (including hives, throat swelling and wheezing) are rare, but do require immediate attention.
Spiders get a bad rap. What most people call a “spider bite” is usually from another insect or other cause. That said, most true spider bites are harmless and don’t require treatment.
Wash the area with soap and water. You can apply an ice pack to help numb any sting and/or give an age-appropriate dose of an over-the-counter pain medication.
Bites from black widow and brown recluse spiders are more serious. These spiders are found mostly in the Western and Southern United States. Symptoms may include:
Call your pediatrician right away if your child has any of these symptoms. If the bite is on your child’s arm or leg, elevate it while seeking medical advice. Allergic reactions are rare, but require immediate attention.
If you discover a tick on your child, carefully remove it immediately using a pair of tweezers. Ticks travel quickly once on the body, and like to hide in crevasses in the skin, such as armpits or the folds of the groin area. As you remove the tick, take precautions to remove the head of the insect which can become embedded in your child’s skin.
It’s important to remove the head of the tick — not just the body — because any part left behind can cause Lyme’s disease. Save the tick in a baggie or other container if you’d like to show your pediatrician in case your child develops symptoms of Lyme’s disease. After the tick is removed, expect a small, itchy bump on the site of the bite for several hours up to two days.
After removing the tick, clean the area with rubbing alcohol. You can also apply some antibiotic ointment or calamine lotion to help with itching and cover with a bandage.
Ticks may carry Lyme disease, a serious bacterial infection. Symptoms can include:
If your child has any of these signs, call your pediatrician right away. Treatment with antibiotics in the early part of Lyme’s disease is necessary to avoid the spread of infection to the joints, heart and nervous system.