There are two main causes of swelling after an insect bite. I recently had a run-in with the more common cause of swelling after an insect bite.
I noticed a mosquito bite on my three-year-old’s hand just before bedtime. She had received a few mosquito bites that weekend, but she wasn’t scratching much so I didn’t worry about it. The next morning, my husband called me at work to tell me her hand was swollen from the mosquito bite.
Our daughter’s pediatrician told us to give her over-the-counter Benadryl and Tylenol, wait a couple of hours to see if the swelling had improved, and call them back. After waiting a couple of hours, her hand was swollen to three times its normal size. So, I took her to the walk-in clinic.
I thought she was having an allergic reaction to the mosquito bites, causing the swelling. However, her severe swelling was actually caused by an infection. I didn’t realize that was possible since she had not scratched the bite and broken her skin. It makes sense though, since the insect has to break the skin when it bites.
My daughter was put on antibiotics and I was told to continue giving her children’s Benadryl for the swelling. Within a couple of days, the swelling in her hand started to diminish. Thankfully, we took her to the doctor quickly.
To prevent insect bite infections, WebMD advises you take the following precautions:
Wash the bite thoroughly with soap and water
Apply an antiseptic such as rubbing alcohol
Trim the bite victim’s fingernails to prevent scratching
Do not break any blisters if they appear
Many times, you will see slight swelling around an insect bite. However, if the area around the bite begins to swell more than any swelling you normally experience, it may be an infection. Infections are serious and need to be addressed.
If you suspect an infection in you or your child, call you doctor or go to the nearest Walk-In Clinic. Do not give small children medication (even over-the-counter) without first consulting a doctor.
Swelling from in infection is different from swelling caused by an allergic reaction. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:
Swelling of the lips or throat
Faintness or dizziness
Rapid heart beat
Nausea, cramps or vomiting
If you or your child experience any of these symptoms, you must seek medical attention immediately.
Of course, the first line of defense against swelling from an insect bite infection is to avoid being bit in the first place. Do your best to prevent insect bites, but if you or your child does get bit, follow this advice to help prevent these serious causes of swelling after an insect bite.
Disclaimer: I am not a health care professional. If you have any significant swelling, consult your doctor.
Mayo Clinc, Insect bites and stings: First aid, mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-insect-bites/fa00046
WebMD, Insect Bites and Stings and Spider Bites – Home Treatment, firstaid.webmd.com/tc/insect-bites-and-stings-and-spider-bites-home-treatment?page=2