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Health Information For Parents
Bug bites and stings usually are just annoying, causing temporary discomfort and pain, but no serious or lasting health problems. But sometimes, they can cause infections that require treatment and allergic reactions that can be serious, even fatal.
Parents should know the signs of an infection or allergic reaction, and when to get medical care. Inform all caregivers if a child has any history of problems so they know what to do in the event of a bug bite or sting.
If your child has had an allergic reaction to a bee or wasp sting in the past, see your health care provider for a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector.
Most spiders found in the United States are harmless, with the exception of the black widow and the brown recluse spider. The brown recluse spider — a tiny oval brown spider with a small shape like a violin on its back — is found mostly in midwestern and southern parts of the United States. This spider likes to hide in dark, quiet places like in attics or garages, under porches, and in woodpiles. The bites usually don’t hurt at first (a child might not even be aware of the bite), but in some cases they cause swelling, changes in skin color, and a blister, which can later scar. Chills, fever, rash, pain, nausea, and rarely, more serious symptoms like seizures or coma can follow a bite.
The black widow spider, which is found all over North America, has a shiny black body and an orange-red hourglass shape on its underbelly. The venom (a toxic substance) in a black widow bite can cause painful cramps that show up within a few hours of the bite. The cramps can start in the muscles around the bite and then spread. The bite may also lead to nausea, vomiting, chills, fever, headache, and muscle aches. If your child has any of these symptoms — or you think he or she has been bitten — go to the emergency room right away.
Another sting to look out for is one caused by a scorpion.
If a person gets stung by a scorpion, the area of the sting will hurt and may get swollen or red, depending on the type of scorpion. More severe reactions from the venom involving other parts of the body also can happen.
Because it’s hard to tell a dangerous scorpion from one that is harmless, all scorpion stings must be treated by a health care provider. Capture the scorpion for identification if it’s possible to do so safely, and bring it with you. Knowing the type of scorpion that caused the bite may make treatment easier.
Check kids and pets for ticks carefully after they’ve been in or around a wooded area. Ticks removed within 24 to 48 hours are less likely to transmit diseases like Lyme disease. Common types of ticks include dog ticks and deer ticks (deer ticks may be carriers of Lyme disease).
If you find a tick on your child:
Here are some ways to protect your family from bites and stings:
Insect sting allergies can cause serious reactions. Find out how to keep kids safe.
Being stung by a bug is often just irritating and doesn’t require medical treatment. But kids who are highly allergic to stings may need emergency medical care.
Most spider bites cause mild reactions, but some can cause serious illness or allergic reactions. Here’s what to do if you think your child was bitten by a spider.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Kids with severe allergies can be at risk for a sudden, serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. The good news is that when treated properly, anaphylaxis can be managed.
Keep the fun in summer by keeping your child safe in the sun, the water, and the great outdoors.
The threat of West Nile virus has made getting a mosquito bite a cause for concern. What is West Nile virus, and what can you do to prevent it?
Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system, and other organ systems. If Lyme disease is diagnosed quickly and treated with antibiotics, most people feel better quickly.
Want to avoid summer hazards so you can focus on the fun? This center offers tips for teens.
Scorpions are about three inches long (about the length of a crayon), with eight legs and a small pair of claws that look like crabs’ claws. Read all about them.
A tarantula is a black, hairy spider that is about two to three inches long. Learn all about spiders and tarantulas in this fun article for kids.
The black widow spider is one of six poisonous kinds of spiders in the United States. Learn more about them!
The brown recluse spider is one of six poisonous kinds of spiders in the United States. Learn more about the brown recluse spider.
Generally, insect bites and stings are harmless. Find out how to keep pests from ruining your fun.
Does the thought of Lyme disease make you worry about enjoying the great outdoors? Here’s some information to help you lower your risk for Lyme disease.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is an infection spread by ticks. Find out more about it – including how to prevent it.
Lyme disease can be treated if it’s caught early. Find out what causes it, how it’s treated, and how to prevent it.
Bee, or honeybee, is the word many people use to describe any flying insect that has wings and a stinger. Learn more about bees.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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