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Babysitting: Dealing With Bug Bites and Stings

Bug stings and bites can be irritating, but the symptoms usually disappear quickly and most don't need medical treatment.

Some kids, though, can have an allergic reaction to an insect sting or bite — and sometimes these can be life threatening. If a severe allergic reaction happens, a child will require immediate medical attention.

Possible signs of a mild allergic reaction:

  • red bumps
  • itchiness
  • mild swelling

Possible signs of a severe allergic reaction:

  • swelling of the face, tongue, or mouth
  • difficulty swallowing or speaking
  • chest tightness
  • wheezing
  • difficulty breathing
  • dizziness

What to Do

If a child shows signs of a severe allergic reaction, call 911 immediately and then call the child's parents.

If a child has a mild reaction to a bug bite or sting:

  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Apply ice wrapped in a towel or a cool, wet cloth to the area to relieve pain and swelling.

Ways to prevent bug bites and stings:

  • Ask the parents about using insect repellent if you will be outdoors.
  • Don't allow children to walk barefoot in the grass.
  • Don't let kids play in or around garages, attics, basements, woodpiles, and places spiders may be.
  • Keep children out of areas where you know there are insects.
  • Keeping all beverages closed when outside.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: May 2013