Children can be stung or bitten by various types of insects such as mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas, bedbugs, wasps, bees, horseflies, gnats, ants, and centipedes. Although stings are unpleasant and painful, they are rarely dangerous, and the soreness will have lessened or disappeared completely by the next day. If the child has been stung in the mouth or throat or has a severe allergic reaction to the stings, immediate medical attention is needed.
Reactions to an insect sting or bite vary by individual and depend on a number of factors: location of the sting or bite, if toxins or irritants have been injected, and how much, and how strongly the child reacts. Some children will have almost no reaction; others may experience swelling. Usually, a sting or bite produces a rapid local reaction, with signs of inflammation such as warmth, swelling, itching, and pain. Occasionally, as time passes, there are signs of delayed reactions that include a fever, enlarged lymph glands, joint pains, or a rash such as hives.
A small percentage of children, usually those with a known history of allergies, develop serious anaphylactic reactions to insect stings or bites: swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and throat, severe breathing difficulties, and circulatory failure. A sting or bite in the mouth or on the neck can also produce swelling and difficulty breathing and swallowing. Immediate medical attention is needed for the anaphylactic reactions and mouth/neck stings.
It is nearly impossible to prevent a child from ever being stung or bitten by an insect, but you can reduce the likelihood of your child getting bites or stings by taking a few simple steps.
You do not need to seek medical advice if your child has a mild to moderate reaction to an insect sting or bite, but contact 911 or your doctor immediately if your child:
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