Children's Health

Bug Bites 101

Little girl playing outside

Spring has arrived, beckoning children to enjoy more time outside. But with this season also comes the promise of bugs that bite and sting. While most of these insects and spiders are harmless, coming into contact with them may result in itching or pain. Some bites and stings may also cause allergic reactions or infections.

“In general, most bug bites turn out OK, causing only itching or mild swelling where the bite was,” said Kelly Watson, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician at Augusta University Health. “However, you do want to look for things that may require medical attention.”

Specifically, if you notice the following symptoms, a call to a pediatrician may be appropriate.

  • bites that are hot or painful to the touch
  • fever
  • drainage or pus coming from the bite
  • ring-like rashes
  • increased redness or swelling

Also, if you suspect your child has a more serious bite from a dangerous spider, like a black widow or a brown recluse, seek medical attention from the nearest emergency department. These types of spiders can be found in dark and dry areas, such as a woodpile or shed.

“We want kids to be active outdoors,” Dr. Watson said. “Taking the proper precautions is critical to make sure they stay safe while playing.”

Prevention and treatment tips

To minimize your child’s likelihood of getting bitten or stung, make sure they wear long sleeves and pants when spending time in the woods or a bushy area. You may even consider taping down the wrists of their sleeves and tucking their pants into boots or socks. Also, apply bug repellent before your child heads outdoors.

If your child does get bit or stung, clean the area with soap and water and apply a cool compress. Depending on your child’s age, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream may also be appropriate, and a bandage on the bite can help your child not scratch the area.

Tick investigation

They may be tiny, but when a tick bites, it can cause big problems. These parasites can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, so removing them quickly is important.

When your child comes in from outside, check areas where ticks may hide, such as their hair, the waistband of pants or shorts and under their arms.

The Children’s Hospital of Georgia has the largest team of general pediatricians, adolescent medicine physicians and pediatric specialists, including dietitians, in the Augusta area. Make an appointment at or call 706-721-KIDS (5437).

About the author

Children's Hospital of Georgia

Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the only facility in the area dedicated exclusively to children. It staffs the largest team of pediatric specialists in the region who deliver out- and in- patient care for everything from common childhood illnesses to life-threatening conditions like heart disorders, cancer and neurological diseases.