KidsMD Health Topics

Insect Stings

  • Most insect stings cause only minor physical discomfort (although even a regular insect sting can be both painful and frightening for your child). But certain insects’ stings may cause allergic reactions in some children, particularly those of:

    • Bees
    • Wasps
    • Hornets
    • Yellow jackets
    • Fire ants
  • What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction to an insect sting?

    For most children, the reaction to an insect sting is short-lived, lasting only a few hours; redness and swelling are followed by itching and mild pain. But if your child is allergic to the insect, the reaction can be life-threatening; this is called anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, and it can include severe symptoms such as:

    • Itching and hives over most of the body
    • Swelling of the throat and tongue
    • Trouble breathing
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Stomach cramps, nausea or diarrhea
    • Rapid drop in blood pressure
    • Shock
    • Loss and consciousness

    If your child experiences any of these symptoms after being stung by an insect, seek immediate medical attention.

    Is there any way to prevent insect stings?

    The following steps may help prevent stings:

    • Tell your child to be careful when eating or drinking uncovered foods or beverages outdoors, as these items may attract insects.
    • Encourage your child to wear close-toed shoes when walking in grassy areas.
    • Watch out for insect nests in trees, shrubs and flower beds, and around wood piles, swimming pools and trash containers.
  • Treatments vary based on your child's age, health and medical history, the extent of your child's disease, and his tolerance for specific medications, procedures and therapies.

    • If your child is stung, immediately remove the stinger and scrape over the area with a fingernail
    • Do NOT squeeze the area, as that may force the venom into the body.
    • Your physician may prescribe an emergency kit with epinephrine to keep on hand in case of future episodes.
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