How to Tell if Your Child Is Allergic to Mosquitoes, Bees & Other Bugs

Note: If your child is going into anaphylactic shock, call 911 immediately. 

As a parent, you certainly want your children to play outdoors, but an outdoor lifestyle may come with some unwelcome playmates: bugs. This season is prime time for insects like mosquitoes and bees, and with them comes the possibility of painful bites and stings. 

Mosquito bites are annoying enough as it is, but in some cases, they can cause dangerous allergic reactions. More than 2 million Americans have bug bite allergies, and kids are no exception to the rule. To help your child stay safe outdoors, we’ve gathered the telltale signs and symptoms of bug allergies, along with tips about choosing the right bug remedy for your child’s needs.

What are the symptoms of a regular bug bite?

Even if your child doesn’t have serious bug allergies, bites can still be a major nuisance. If a bee, mosquito, or other insect stings your child, you can expect to see some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Discoloration
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Itching

These symptoms certainly aren’t fun, but in most cases, they’re not much more than an annoyance, and can be easily treated with products such as Bite Away’s bug bite relief. Most bug bites should also naturally subside within a few hours, but in some cases they can last up to two days. This is normal, and the lifespan of the bug bite depends on the child. Some kids simply heal from bites quicker than others.

What about bug bite allergies?

Normal bug bites can be a pain on their own, but allergies can make them even worse for your child. In fact, kids are more susceptible to bug-related allergic reactions than adults, so you should always be on the lookout to see if your child is displaying telltale signs of bug allergies.

If itching, pain, and slight swelling are all normal symptoms, then when should you worry about your child’s mosquito bites? While kids should naturally experience mosquito bite relief within a day of being bitten, symptoms can last much longer in allergic children. If a bite’s effects continue for more than 48 hours without any sign of recovery, then your child is likely allergic.

Children tend to have more extreme reactions to bug bites than adults because their immune systems are still developing. This means that toddlers and young kids can experience conditions like low-grade fevers and larger areas of swelling. If your child is bitten by an insect, monitor their symptoms closely for these types of warning signs.

Common Insect Allergies

Insect allergies are triggered by three main sources: bites, stings, and insect debris. While your child may be allergic to a variety of insects, the most common allergies come from these bugs:

Stinging Bugs
• Honey bees
• Yellow jackets
• Hornets
• Wasps
• Fire ants

Biting Bugs
• Blackflies
• Fleas
• Horseflies
• Mosquitoes
• Kissing bugs

Bugs that Leave Debris
• Cockroaches
• Midges
• Lake flies
• Caddisflies

The most common and recognizable allergies are caused by a reaction to the venom, saliva, or proteins left in the body after a bug bite or sting. Luckily, it’s easy to identify common bug bites, and mild allergies will only cause minor (though annoying) symptoms:

  • Skin rash
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warmth in the area near the bite

Allergies from insect debris, which is the bug equivalent of pet dander, can be more difficult to identify. There’s no big bite mark or painful sting, and the debris itself is often impossible to spot with the naked eye. To make things even more difficult, most homeowners may not even realize they’re harboring the bugs in the first place! The symptoms of insect debris allergies are similar to allergies from pollen and pet dander as well:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath

What About Skeeter Syndrome?

Many parents have heard about Skeeter Syndrome, since it’s one of the most common allergic reactions to one of the most common biting bugs out there: mosquitoes.

The reaction itself is caused by the proteins in mosquito saliva, which is injected into the bloodstream after a bite. It can cause large discolored bumps and blotches to form on your skin, leading to significant swelling and itching. In some cases, the swelling associated with Skeeter Syndrome can double the size of the affected limb.

Skeeter Syndrome can be difficult to diagnose on its own. However, if you notice massive, itchy, and sometimes painful patches on your child’s skin after being bitten by a mosquito, then they may have Skeeter Syndrome. To soothe the swelling and itching, try applying calamine lotion and other topical treatments. 

If your case is more severe, use antihistamines and mosquito bite relief products like Claritin and Ibuprofen to reduce irritation within the hour.

As annoying as Skeeter Syndrome can be, some allergic reactions can be far worse. Children with especially severe bug bite allergies can display the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Development of hives
  • Small blisters

These are all symptoms of anaphylactic shock, a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal to children if left untreated. If your child displays any signs of anaphylaxis after getting bitten, call 911 immediately. If you have an EpiPen on hand while your child is experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should quickly administer it as well.