Stings and Bites | Emma's Diary India

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Stings and bites


Do you know what to do if your child is stung or gets a nasty insect bite?

If your child is stung it's important to try to stay calm and reassure her. Fright, more than the pain itself is usually what will make a child upset about being stung.

You should seek medical help or advice is if your child has been stung several times by bees or wasps, if she has been stung in the mouth or throat, or in the rare event that she shows an allergic reaction the sting.

In a very small percentage of the population, a sting can cause a severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock) with sudden swelling of the lips, mouth and throat.

In these cases urgent medical treatment is needed and you should call hospital emergency immediately.

An insect net over the pram will keep your baby protected from bites and stings while she sleeps outdoors.

Bee stings

Bees leave their sting, complete with poison sac, in the skin. Simply remove the sting by scraping it out, either with your fingernails or something with a hard edge, such as a credit card.

Do not attempt to pinch the sting out with your fingers or with tweezers as this may squeeze more poison under the skin.

Wash the area with soap and water and then place a cold cloth over the sting. Paracetamol can be given in the appropriate dose for your child's age to ease the pain.

The area will become itchy and may remain swollen for several days; try to prevent your child from scratching as this can cause infection.

If an infection does occur the site of the sting will become more painful and swollen and there may be a yellow discharge. In this case you should seek medical advice, as antibiotics may be required.

Wasp stings

Wasps don't leave their sting behind so there is nothing to remove. Cold water will sooth the discomfort.

Home remedies that may give some relief include rubbing a peeled clove of garlic on the area. You can also crush the clove and hold it on the area with a plaster. Some people also use vinegar or lemon juice. As with a bee sting, the area will become itchy and remain red and swollen for a few days.

You can crush the clove and hold it on the area with a plaster as a temporary measure. Some people also use vinegar or lemon juice to neutralise the venom. As with a bee sting, the area will become itchy and remain red and swollen for a few days.


Stings from a jellyfish can be very painful. Any tentacles should be removed with tweezers and something with a hard edge, like a credit card, should be used to remove any poisonous sacs that are stuck to the skin.

Ideally the affected area should be treated with hot water or a heat pack to reduce pain and inflammation and paracetamol can be given in the correct dose for your child’s age.

Applying vinegar will prevent further poison from being released but won't provide pain relief. Very rarely jellyfish stings can cause a severe reaction and immediate medical help is required.

Mosquito bites

Insects like mosquitoes feed off the person they bite, but often the actual bite is not felt at all. It is the reaction to the bite that is unpleasant.

Often a mosquito bite will result in a raised red itchy lump. Wash the bite with soap and water and place a cold compress over the affected area to help reduce swelling. Not scratching the bite is important and there are some effective antihistamine creams available at the chemists that will calm the itching. Ask the chemist for advice.

Protecting your baby or young children is the best way to prevent mosquito bites. Use a mosquito net and make sure that their arms, legs and feet are kept covered when you are in an area, such as near a lake or pond, where there are mosquitoes.

Light-colours are less attractive to insects than dark colours and patterned clothing. Avoid being out before and after sunset as these are peak times for mosquitoes and keep away from wooded areas.

Always check when buying insect repellent that it is suitable for your baby's age. Insect repellents containing DEET should not be used on babies under two months.

Low concentration products (up to 30%) can be used on children over two months. Never spray insect repellent on your baby’s face or near their eyes. It's not a good idea to spray your child’s room will insect repellent as there is a risk of it being inhaled.

Signs of anaphylactic shock

Very rarely a child may have a severe allergic reaction to a bite or sting. In extreme cases this can be fatal.

This is known as anaphylactic shock and you should dial your hospital emergency immediately for an ambulance.

Signs include:

  • Dizziness and feeling faint
  • Difficulty in breathing because of swelling of the tissues in the airways
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Red, raised itchy skin rash
  • Swelling of the eyes, lips, hands and feet
  • Sore, red, itchy eyes and sneezing
  • In severe cases loss of consciousness
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