Which bug bit my child?
Summertime is upon us and so are the bugs. Unfortunately, the presence of bugs naturally dictates there will be bug bites. While we, as parents, would love to protect our children from any kind of harm or discomfort, our children will inevitably be bitten or stung by creeping and crawling things over the course of their lives. So, how can we tell which bug has bitten our children? When should we worry? What should we do?
In general, most children are good about expressing pain, itchiness, or irritability. If there is a red, swollen, raised, tender-to-the touch bump or rash, it is a good indicator that your child has been bitten or stung; however, different bugs can produce different symptoms.
Bees and wasps – symptoms can include localized allergic reactions (redness, swelling, and heat). A systemic allergic reaction can occur and can be quite serious. If a person is wheezing, has a shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, faintness, and swelling of the face, lips, throat, or tongue; call 911 immediately.
Fleas and Ticks – The culprit mainly is the family pet. They tend to cling to warm areas of a body even after he or she has bitten. Seek immediate medical attention if there is stiff-neck, headache of nausea, weakness, muscle or joint pain, fever of chills, and swollen lymph nodes. Ticks, in particular, can carry serious illnesses such as Lyme Disease and ehrlichiosis.
Mosquitoes – Mosquitoes hang out where there is food and bodies of still water. Generally, mosquito bites are nothing to worry about; nevertheless, with the Zika Virus and West Nile Virus being reported lately, seek medical attention immediately if you or your child develop fevers, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash.
Spider Bites – In the U.S. the Brown Recluse Spider and Black Widow are the most dangerous. For the Brown Recluse, people notice swelling and skin changes 4 to 8 hours after the bite. The swelling may form a blister, which can later turn black and leave a scar as it heals over the next few months. Chills, fever, rash, pain, nausea and, rarely, more serious symptoms (like seizures or coma) also can follow a bite. Symptoms for a Black Widow include pain at the site of the bite, then dull muscle pains, especially in the chest or belly, within minutes to an hour of being bitten. Victims may develop painful muscle cramps and severe pain, might throw up (or feel like they might), and have chills, fever, or a headache within a few hours.
As the spider’s venom spreads in the body, a person may get severe abdominal cramping. If any of these things happen, or if you think you may have gotten a bite from a black widow spider, wash the area with soap and water, put an ice pack on it, and go to the emergency room right away, even if the bite doesn’t look bad.
Treatments: Usually, and for most variety of bites or stings, you can lather antihistamine cream on the infected area to reduce swelling and stop itchiness. Acetaminophen can alleviate any pain. For a bee or wasp sting, try to remove the stinger with a pair of tweezers to prevent further exposure to the venom. You may also do this with a tick bite. Remember that ticks should be removed within 24-48 hours as they carry Lyme disease. Serious spider bites should be taken seriously if you or your child feels in any way sick. Take the spider with you to the emergency room if you have killed it. Monitor your or your child’s symptoms after a mosquito bite.
If your child has a rash that will not disappear after a few days or has episodes of wheezing, shortness of breath, and swelling of his or her face and lips following bug bite treatment, then your child may be having an allergic reaction to something else.