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First Aid & Emergencies

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Insect Bites and Stings (Children)

Call 911 if your child:

  • Has been bitten or stung and has sudden hives, swelling in the face, difficulty breathing, dizziness, or fainting
  • Had a serious allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting before

Insect stings and bites in young children may be painful, frightening, or irritating, but they're rarely a cause for concern unless your child has an allergic reaction.

Call Doctor If:

  • Your child has been bitten or stung near the mouth
  • The area seems to be getting larger or redder or is oozing, which are signs of infection.

1. Remove the Stinger (for Honeybee Stings)

  • Honeybees are the only insects that leave a stinger in the skin. Scrape the area with a fingernail or credit card to remove it.
  • Don't pinch the stinger with your fingers or tweezers -- that can inject more venom.

2. Clean the Area

  • Wash the bite or sting with mild soap and water.

3. Treat Symptoms

  • Remove any tight jewelry from the area of the bite or sting. It could be hard to get off once the area swells.
  • Ice the area for 10 minutes and then remove the ice for 10 minutes. Then repeat.
  • If the sting was on an arm or leg, elevate the area.
  • Pain relievers that are formulated for babies or children, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can help. Be sure to follow the dosing instructions on the bottle. If your child is under the recommended age, call a pediatrician.
  • An antihistamine formulated for children may help with swelling and itch. Call a pediatrician before using an antihistamine in infants or toddlers.
  • Apply a mixture of baking soda and water or calamine lotion for itch.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on September 10, 2015

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