Insect bites are a part of summer, and most are no cause for concern. But what if your child gets sick as a result? We spoke with Le Bonheur’s Dr. Mindy Longjohn for her advice on what bites look like and when to seek medical attention. She recommends pediatric specialists, “because kids are not just little adults.”
Most stings cause only mild redness and swelling. Treat with Tylenol, ibuprofen, along with ice on the sting site. “Keep it cool, dry, and clean,” says Longjohn. To remove a stinger, brush skin in the opposite direction of entry with a credit card or pull with tweezers. But be aware of signs of anaphylaxis. “If you have an Epi-pen,” she notes, “don’t wait on giving that to your child before calling or seeking medical care.”
Warning signs include:
shortness of breath wheezing difficulty swallowing sore throat nausea vomiting abdominal pain
Ticks are prominent in the spring and summer months. So bite prevention is key. If spending time in wooded areas, wear long sleeves and pants tucked into socks and use bug repellent. Once inside, perform a full body exam, removing attached ticks with tweezers as soon as possible. “The shorter the time they’re on, the less likely you are to develop a tick borne illness,” she says. “Get as close to the skin as possible, and pull upward with steady, even pressure.” Wash the area with soap and water, and flush ticks down the toilet.
Symptoms of tick borne illnesses (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, or Lyme disease) rarely occur immediately. “If your child has an illness within a month of getting a tick bite, make sure you mention it to the doctor, because the earlier we can start treating it, the better.”
See a pediatrician if your child has these symptoms. Some can arise even weeks after a tick bite:
fever muscle aches bull’s eye rash in the bite area or other location general rash at the site, on wrists, arms, trunk, or elsewhere severe headache redness spreads weak, droopy face or crooked smile
The majority of spider bites cause only minor redness and swelling, occasionally requiring ice, Tylenol, or ibuprofen. “You don’t have to rush to the emergency department. Just keep the area clean and dry with mild soap and water, and watch it,” says Longjohn. Even suspected brown recluse bites don’t generally warrant a trip to the ER.
Contact a pediatrician after any type of bite if your child experiences:
large area of redness excessive pain fever nausea/vomiting headaches muscle aches bite area becomes dark black and depressed