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Unfortunately, insect bites are an unavoidable part of childhood. But your INTEGRIS Family Care physician is always here to help.

Insect Bites

Insect Bites

Little bites can be big pain.

Regardless of how careful you are about animals in your home, or how many precautions you take when your child is outside playing, animal and insect bites and stings are sometimes unavoidable.

By remaining calm and knowing some basic first aid techniques, you can help your child overcome both the fear and the trauma of bites and stings.

Many different types of bites and stings require clinical care by a doctor or other health care professional. Listed in the directory below are some, for which we have provided a brief overview.

Learn About Insect Bites and How They Affect Children

Regardless of how careful you are about animals in your home, or how many precautions you take when your child is outside playing, animal and insect bites and stings are sometimes unavoidable. By remaining calm and knowing some basic first aid techniques, you can help your child overcome both the fear and the trauma of bites and stings.

Many different types of bites and stings require clinical care by a doctor or health care professional. Learn more about insect bites in children, important signs and symptoms to watch for if your child has been bitten, the steps you should take to alleviate your child’s pain and discomfort, and when to contact an INTEGRIS provider.

Fleas, Mites and Chiggers

What are flea, mite, or chigger bites in children?

Fleas, mites, and chiggers are different kinds of small insects. They are also parasites. This means they feed off the blood, skin, or both of animals and humans. These insects are more common in the warm weather. They bite skin and cause symptoms such as bumps, redness, pain, or itching.

What causes flea, mite, or chigger bites in a child?

Fleas, mites, and chiggers often bite humans, but these bugs are not harmful.  Close contact with the insects outdoors can lead to bites.

Which children are at risk for flea, mite or chigger bites?

Children who spend more time outdoors in the summer with skin exposed are more likely to get insect bites.

What are the symptoms of flea, mite or chigger bites in a child?

Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:

  • Small bumps on the skin

  • Pain or itching in the area

  • Redness, swelling, or blistering

The symptoms of flea, mite, or chigger bites can seem like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How are flea, mite or chigger bites diagnosed in a child?

The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam.

It may be difficult to tell which type of insect caused the bites. It can also be hard to tell if the symptoms are from poison ivy or other skin condition.

How are flea, mite or chigger bites treated in a child?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Treatment may include:

  • Cleaning the area well with soap and water.

  • Giving your child an allergy medicine (antihistamine) for itching. Antihistamines can be taken by mouth (orally) as a pill or liquid. Or they can be applied to the skin (topical) in the form of a cream or ointment. Be sure to follow the instructions on the medicine label.

  • Giving your child an over-the-counter pain medicine if advised by the healthcare provider. Follow the provider’s instructions when giving these medicines to your child. Don’t use ibuprofen in children younger than 6 months old. Don’t give your child aspirin. Always talk with your child's provider before giving these medicines if your child has chronic liver or kidney disease or has ever had a stomach ulcer or GI (gastrointestinal) bleeding.

  • Keeping your child's fingernails short. This is to prevent a skin infection caused by scratching.

What can I do to prevent flea, mite or chigger bites in my child?

You can help prevent insect bites in your child by:

  • Talking with your child's healthcare provider about a safe insect repellent to use on your child

  • Not using heavily scented soaps, lotions, and other products on your child

  • Having your child wear long sleeves and long pants when possible

  • Tucking your child’s pant legs into his or her socks or shoes

  • Making sure your child avoids wooded, brushy, and grassy areas when possible

  • Using products to protect your pets from fleas

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?

Call your child’s healthcare provider if your child has the following symptoms:

  • Pain or itching that gets worse

  • Signs of infection such as redness, warmth, swelling, or fluid leaking from the skin

  • Fever

  • Hives

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Call 911 if your child has signs of a severe allergic reaction such as:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Tightness in the throat or chest

  • Dizziness

Key points about flea, mite or chigger bites in children

  • Fleas, mites, and chiggers are different kinds of small insects.

  • They bite skin and cause symptoms such as bumps, redness, pain, or itching.

  • Close contact with the insects outdoors can lead to bites.

  • Treatment may include allergy medicine and over-the-counter pain medicine.

  • You can help prevent insect bites in your child by using a safe insect repellent.

  • Call 911 if your child has signs of a severe allergic reaction such as trouble breathing or tightness in the throat or chest.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.

    Tick Bites

    Ticks are small insect-like creatures that live in grass, bushes, wooded areas, and along seashores. They attach their bodies onto a human or animal host and prefer hairy areas, such as the scalp, behind the ear, in the armpit and groin, and also between fingers and toes. Tick bites often happen at night and occur more in the spring and summer months.

    What to do if you find a tick on your child:

    • Do not touch the tick with your bare hand. If you do not have a pair of tweezers, take your child to your nearest healthcare facility where the tick can be removed safely.
    • Use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick. Grab the tick firmly by its mouth or head as close to your child's skin as possible.
    • Pull up slowly and steadily without twisting until it lets go. Do not squeeze the tick, and do not use petroleum jelly, solvents, knives, or a lit match to kill the tick.
    • Save the tick and place it in a plastic container or bag so it can be tested for disease, if necessary.
    • Wash the area of the bite well with soap and water and apply an antiseptic lotion or cream.
    • Call your child's healthcare provider to find out about follow-up care.

    Regardless of how careful you are about animals in your home, or how many precautions you take when your child is outdoors playing, animal and insect bites and stings are sometimes unavoidable.

    By remaining calm and knowing some basic first aid techniques, you can help your child overcome both the fear and the trauma of bites and stings.

    Lyme Disease in Children

    What is Lyme disease in children?

    Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacteria are usually spread by tick bites. Lyme disease is a year-round problem, but it peaks during the spring and summer months. It can cause short-term symptoms, and may cause long-term problems.

    What causes Lyme disease in a child?

    Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that are spread to people by tick bites. The ticks that carry the bacteria are:

    • Black-legged deer tick. These are found in the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and North-Central U.S.
    • Western black-legged tick. These are found on the West Coast of the U.S.

      Not all ticks carry the Lyme disease bacteria. Depending on the location, less than 1 in 100 to more than half of ticks in that area may be infected with Lyme.

      Which children are at risk for Lyme disease?

      A child is more at risk for Lyme disease in certain parts of the U.S. during the spring and summer months, when ticks are more active. Ticks live in wooded areas, low-growing grasslands, and yards. A child is more at risk outdoors in these places, or around a pet that has been in these areas.

      Lyme has been reported in nearly all states. The most cases have been reported in:

      • Northeastern states, such as Massachusetts and Connecticut

      • Mid-Atlantic states, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania

      • Wisconsin and Minnesota

      • Northern California

      Many cases have also been reported in Asia and Europe.

      What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in a child?

      Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They usually appear within 3 to 30 days after a tick bite. Lyme disease has early and late-stage symptoms. Early stage Lyme disease is more easily cured with antibiotics than late-stage disease. Most cases of late-stage disease occur when if early stage disease is not treated.

      One of the most common symptoms is a ring-shaped rash that looks like a bull's-eye. It may be pink in the center and have a darker red ring around it. The rash does not occur in every case of Lyme. If it does occur, the rash may:

      • Appear several days after infection

      • Last up to several weeks

      • Be very small or very large, up to 12 inches across

      • Look like other skin problems such as hives, eczema, sunburn, poison ivy, or flea bites

      • Itch or feel hot, or not be felt at all

      • Go away and come back several weeks later

      Several days or weeks after a bite from an infected tick, your child may have flu-like symptoms such as:

      • Headache

      • Stiff neck

      • Aches and pains in muscles and joints

      • Low fever and chills

      • Tiredness

      • Loss of appetite

      • Swollen glands

      Weeks to months after the bite, these symptoms may develop:

      • Nervous system symptoms. Examples are inflammation of the nervous system (meningitis) and weakness and paralysis of the facial muscles (Bell palsy)

      • Heart problems, such as inflammation of the heart (myopericarditis) and problems with heart rate

      • Eye problems, such as inflammation of the eyes

      • Skin disorders

      • Severe tiredness

      • Weakness

      Months to a few years after a bite, these symptoms may occur:

      • Inflammation of the joints (arthritis)

      • Nervous system symptoms such as numbness in the arms and legs, tingling and pain, and trouble with speech, memory, and concentration

      The symptoms of Lyme disease can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

      How is Lyme disease diagnosed in a child?

      The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she will ask about recent tick bites. He or she will give your child a physical exam.

      Lyme may be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are like other conditions. The main symptom is often a rash, but more than 1 in 5 people infected with Lyme don’t have the rash. Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and a history of a tick bite. Your child may have blood tests to help diagnose Lyme, and to check for other illnesses that can cause similar symptoms. Researchers are working on more ways to diagnose Lyme.

      How is Lyme disease treated in a child?

      Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotic medicine. Early stage Lyme disease is more easily cured with antibiotics than late-stage disease. Your child’s healthcare provider will discuss the best treatment plan with you based on:

      • Your child’s symptoms and test results
      • If your child had a recent tick bite
      • If the tick tests positive for bacteria that cause Lyme
      • If your child lives in an area where the ticks are known to be infected

        Talk with your child’s healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.

        What are possible complications of Lyme disease in a child?

        Some children may develop post-Lyme disease syndrome (PLDS). This means that some symptoms last longer than 6 months. Symptoms can include:

        • Ongoing muscle and nerve pain
        • Tiredness
        • Problems with memory

          How can I help prevent Lyme disease in a child?

          There is no vaccine for Lyme disease. A child who has had the disease doesn’t build up immunity and can get it again. But you can help prevent Lyme disease by protecting your child from tick bites.                                                   

          Ticks can’t bite through clothing, so dress your child and family in:

          • Long-sleeved shirts tucked into pants
          • Socks and closed-toe shoes
          • Long pants with legs tucked into socks

            Choose light-colored clothing so that ticks can be easily seen. Check your child often for ticks, including:

            • Behind the knees, between fingers and toes, in underarms, and in the groin

            • In the belly button

            • In and behind the ears, on the neck, in the hairline, and on top of the head

            • Where underwear elastic touches the skin

            • Where bands from pants or skirts touch the skin

            • Anywhere else clothing presses on the skin

            • All other areas of the body and hair

            • Run fingers gently over the skin. Run a fine-toothed comb through your child's hair to check for ticks.

            Other helpful tips include:

              • When possible, use cleared or paved paths when walking through wooded areas and fields.
              • Shower after outdoor activities are done for the day. It may take up to 4 to 6 hours for ticks to attach firmly to skin. Showering may help remove any loose ticks.

              Use insect repellents safely. The most common used against ticks are:

              • DEET. This is for skin. Products that contain DEET repel ticks, but may not kill the tick and are not 100% effective. Use a children's insect repellent with no more than 30% DEET. Products that contain DEET should not be used on babies less than 2 months old. Don't put insect repellent near your child's mouth, nose, or eyes, or on open cuts or sores.
              • Permethrin. This is for clothing, tents, and other fabric. This chemical is known to kill ticks on contact. Treat fabric with small amounts of a product that contains permethrin. Don't use permethrin on the skin.

                Check your pets for ticks. Talk with your pet’s veterinarian about tick repellent medicine.

                When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

                Call the healthcare provider if your child has:

                  • Symptoms that don’t get better, or get worse
                  • New symptoms

                  Key points about Lyme disease in children

                  • Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria. The bacteria are usually spread by tick bites.
                  • Lyme disease is a year-round problem, but it peaks during the spring and summer months.
                  • Ticks live in wooded areas, low-growing grasslands, and yards. A child is more at risk outdoors in these places, or around a pet who has been in these areas.
                  • One of the most common symptoms is a ring-shaped rash that looks like a bulls-eye. It may be pink in the center and have a darker red ring around it. The rash does not occur in every case of Lyme.
                  • Lyme may be hard to diagnose. Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and a history of a tick bite. Your child may have blood tests to help diagnose Lyme.
                  • Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotic medicine. Early stage Lyme disease is more easily cured with antibiotics than late-stage disease.
                  • There is no vaccine for Lyme disease. But you can help prevent Lyme disease by protecting your child from tick bites.

                    Next steps

                    Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

                      • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
                      • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
                      • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
                      • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
                      • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
                      • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
                      • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
                      • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
                      • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.

                      Brown Recluse and Black Widow Spider Bites in Children

                      What is the risk of spider bites in children?

                      All spiders in the U.S. are venomous. The fangs of most spiders are too short or too fragile to break through human skin. Or their poison (venom) is too weak to cause damage. Most spider bites cause only minor, local reactions. But some spider bites can be serious.

                      What are the spiders to watch for?

                      In the U.S., two spiders can cause serious problems: the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse (also called the violin spider).

                      Brown Recluse

                      The Brown Recluse spider is about 1 inch (2.54 cm) long. It has a violin-shaped mark on its upper abdomen and head. In the U.S., they are more common in the Midwest and South.

                      They tend to live in undisturbed areas. These include basements, closets and attics, or outside under logs or leaf piles. They’re not normally aggressive, but they will bite if they’re disturbed or feel threatened.

                      No deaths have been reported in the U.S. from Brown Recluse bites.

                      Black Widow

                      The Black Widow is a small, shiny, black, button-shaped spider. Female Black Widows have a red hourglass shape on their underside or abdomen. Males have marks on their backs. In the U.S., they are most common in the South and West.

                      Black Widow spiders release a toxin that can harm a child’s central nervous system. If your child gets bitten by a black widow, he or she needs medical help right away. 

                      What are the symptoms of a spider bite in children?

                      The following are the most common symptoms of a Brown Recluse spider bite:

                        • Burning, pain, itching or redness at the site where the child was bitten. This reaction often doesn’t start right away. It may come on several hours or days after the bite.
                        • A deep blue or purple area around the bite. It may be surrounded by a whitish ring and large red outer ring that looks like a bull's-eye.
                        • An ulcer or blister that turns black
                        • Headache and body aches
                        • Rash
                        • Fever
                        • Nausea or vomiting

                        The symptoms of a Brown Recluse spider bite may look like other health problems. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

                        The following are the most common symptoms of a Black Widow spider bite:

                          • Immediate pain, burning, swelling and redness at the site where the child bitten. You may see double fang marks.
                          • Cramping pain and muscle tightness in the stomach, chest, shoulders and back
                          • Headache
                          • Dizziness
                          • Rash and itching
                          • Restlessness and anxiety
                          • Sweating
                          • Swelling and tearing of the eyes
                          • Nausea or vomiting
                          • Increased saliva
                          • Weakness, shaking, or not being able to move, especially in the legs

                          The symptoms of a Black Widow spider bite may look like other health problems. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

                          How is a spider bite diagnosed in a child?

                          Your child's healthcare provider will look at the bite area. He or she will also check your child for other symptoms of a bite. He or she will also ask if your child was recently in an area where spiders are often found.

                          If you can trap the spider without endangering yourself, try to do so and put it in a glass jar or sturdy plastic container. This way, an expert can identify the spider. This will help your child get the right treatment.

                          How is a spider bite treated in a child?

                          If your child is bitten by a spider, get medical help right away. Also:

                            • Stay calm. Tell your child that you can help.
                            • Wash the area well with soap and water.
                            • Put a cold or ice pack wrapped in a cloth or a cold, wet washcloth on the area of the bite.
                            • Apply an antibiotic lotion or cream to the area of the bite. This can reduce your child’s risk for an infection.
                            • Give acetaminophen to your child, to help with pain.
                            • If the bite happened on an arm or leg, elevate the arm or leg to help prevent swelling.

                            Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

                            Brown Recluse spider treatment

                            Depending on the severity of the bite, your child may need surgery. No medicines have been found to help Brown Recluse bites. Your child may need to stay in the hospital for further treatment.

                            Black Widow spider treatment

                            Your child may need muscle relaxants, pain relievers and other medicines. Some children need a special medicine that works against the poison (antivenin). Your child may need to stay in the hospital for further treatment.

                            What can I do to prevent spider bites in children?

                            Children can wear protective clothing when they’re playing where spiders live. These include long-sleeved shirts and pants. If you can, remove tall grass, leaves and logs from outdoor play areas.

                            You should also keep your child’s tetanus shots up-to-date. Spider bites can get infected with tetanus.

                            Key points about spider bites in children

                              • Most spider bites cause only minor, local reactions. But some spider bites can be serious.
                              • The 2 spiders that can cause serious problems are the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse.
                              • Venom from the Brown Recluse spider often causes local tissue damage.
                              • Black Widow spiders release a toxin. This can harm your child’s central nervous system.
                              • If your child is bitten by a spider, get medical help right away.

                              Next steps

                              Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

                              • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
                              • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
                              • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
                              • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
                              • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
                              • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
                              • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
                              • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
                              • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.

                                If you have any additional questions please call the National Poison Control Center at 1-80-222-1222.