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Top Treatments for Kids’ Bee Stings and Bug Bites

By Staff | July 17, 2020 | Cleveland Clinic

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.

Bees

What’s a normal reaction? 

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. 

What can I do?

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. 

When should I call the doctor? 

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. 

Signs of an allergic reaction:

  • Hives.
  • Swelling (face, throat or mouth).
  • Wheezing or difficulty swallowing.
  • Restlessness or anxiety.
  • Rapid pulse.
  • Dizziness or loss of consciousness.

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. 

Mosquitoes

What’s a normal reaction? 

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.  

What can I do?

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.  

When should I call the doctor? 

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:  

  • Swelling at the site of the bite.
  • Yellowish drainage or crusting over the bite. 
  • Warm to the touch or fever.
  • Muscle weakness.

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

What’s a normal reaction? 

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.   

What can I do?

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.  

When should I call the doctor? 

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:  

  • Swelling.
  • Fluid-filled blister (brown recluse only).
  • Increasing pain and stiffness.
  • Chills.
  • Fever.

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.  

Ticks

What’s a normal reaction? 

If you discover a tick on your child, carefully remove it immediately using a pair of tweezersTicks 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.  

What can I do?

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.  

When should I call the doctor? 

Ticks may carry Lyme disease, a serious bacterial infection. Symptoms can include:  

  • A large, red, ring-like mark around the tick bite. 
  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Swollen lymph nodes. 
  • Rash. 

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. 

This article is from Cleveland Clinic and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Staff
Cleveland Clinic