INSECT BITES & STINGS
DESCRIPTIONInsect bites and stings cause skin eruptions and other symptoms. The victim often doesn't remember being bitten or stung. The skin on any part of the body and the lymph glands in the neck, armpit, groin, or elbow are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications (sometimes).
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSA toxic reaction with pain, such as from bee stings.
A toxic reaction with itching due to the body's release of histamine at the bite site, such as from mosquitoes.
Red lumps in the skin. The lumps usually appear within minutes after the bite or sting, but some don't appear for 6 to 12 hours. Skin reactions fall into 2 categories:
Bites or stings from mosquitoes, fleas, chiggers, bedbugs, ants, spiders, bees, and other insects.
RISK FACTORSAreas with heavy insect infestations.
Warm weather in spring and summer.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
After identifying the cause, remove it if possible. Treat animals for fleas and exterminate the house or kennel.
If your child cannot avoid exposure to biting insects, apply insect repellents with diethyltoluamide (DEET).
Recent evidence indicates that vitamins in the B-vitamin group may be a deterrent to insect bites.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Anaphylaxis (for hypersensitive children). This is an emergency! See Anaphylaxis (in Illnesses section).
Secondary bacterial infection at the site of the bite. This may cause swollen lymph glands in the neck, armpit, groin, or elbow.
Most troublesome symptoms disappear in 2 to 3 days, but scratching may prolong your child's symptoms for several weeks. Treatment helps, but it doesn't cure quickly.
Use immersion or wrapped soaks to relieve your child's itching and hasten healing. Warm-water soaks are usually more soothing for pain and inflammation. Cool-water soaks feel better for itching.
If your child has had anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) following an insect bite, ask your doctor for an anaphylaxis kit to treat it in the future.
MEDICATIONFor minor discomfort, you may use the following for your child:
-- Non-prescription oral antihistamines to decrease itching.
-- Non-prescription topical steroid preparations to reduce inflammation and decrease itching. Use according to label directions. For face and groin, use only low-potency steroid products without fluorine.
For serious symptoms, your doctor may:
-- Prescribe stronger topical steroids or oral steroids if the reaction is severe.
-- Inject epinephrine or cortisone to prevent or diminish anaphylaxis symptoms.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite has returned and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of anaphylaxis. This is an emergency!
Self-care does not relieve symptoms, or symptoms don't improve after 2 to 3 days of medical treatment.
A bitten area becomes red, swollen, warm, and tender, indicating infection.
Temperature rises to 101F (38.3C).