Bites & Stings

Bites & stings are a relatively common occurrence during childhood when life is full of outdoor play, wildlife encounters, and exciting discoveries. Insects, animals, and arachnids can sometimes pose unwelcome encounters that, while often minor, may occasionally require attention and care.

When spending time outdoors, children are exposed to an array of insects like mosquitoes, ants, bees, and spiders, all of which have their own unique ways of expressing displeasure when provoked. Additionally, pets and wildlife encounters can result in animal bites, adding another layer of potential risks.

While most instances may cause temporary discomfort and minor skin irritation, some bites and stings can lead to more severe reactions and complications. This is particularly true when allergens or infections are involved.

At Robertson Pediatrics, our expertise extends beyond just treating the physical symptoms. We also offer guidance and support to the family, helping you understand the best ways to prevent and manage bites and stings.

Types of Bites & Stings

Insect Bites

Outdoor play means exposure to insects such as mosquitoes, ants, bees, wasps, and more. These tiny but often irksome creatures can leave behind itchy, red, or swollen marks. While most insect bites are mild, some children may experience more severe allergic reactions.

Animal Bites

Children are curious creatures, which can lead to encounters with pets and other animals. Although less frequent than insect bites, animal bites can be more problematic. 

Dogs, cats, and wild animals may occasionally exhibit aggressive behavior, resulting in painful bites that require prompt medical attention.

Spider Bites

In certain regions, spiders may be an unexpected houseguest, making spider bites a possibility. While most spider bites are harmless, some venomous species are capable of delivering a more potent sting. 

Identifying the spider and its bite is crucial to determine the appropriate course of action.

Difference Between Bites & Stings

While bites and stings are often used interchangeably, they refer to two distinct actions. Understanding the differences between bites and stings is essential. 


A "bite" occurs when an animal or insect uses its mouthparts, typically teeth or mandibles, to puncture the skin. This action allows the creature to grasp, grip, and sometimes feed on its host. 

Bites usually result in a puncture wound, sometimes with bruising or broken skin. Key culprits for bites can include dogs, cats, mosquitoes, ants, and even humans.

Most bites range from mild irritation and discomfort to more severe consequences, including infections and allergic reactions.


On the other hand, a “sting” occurs when an insect uses its stinger to inject venom directly into the skin. Stinging creatures include bees, wasps, scorpions, and certain types of ants. 

Stings are known for causing immediate pain and localized allergic reactions. In the case of venomous species, systemic symptoms may require medical attention.

Recognizing whether your child has been bitten or stung is the first step in determining the appropriate first-aid measures. In both cases, understanding the specific creature responsible for the bite or sting is essential to provide the best possible care and treatment.

Health Risks of Bites & Stings

While a majority of bites and stings result in temporary discomfort, such as itching and swelling, some may lead to more significant health risks. 

Allergic Reactions

Some children may be hypersensitive to the proteins in the saliva or venom injected by biting or stinging creatures. If an allergic reaction occurs, the body's immune system goes into overdrive, resulting in symptoms that can range from mild to severe. 

Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hives or a widespread rash
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness

In some cases, a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis can manifest. 

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition that demands immediate medical intervention or rapid treatment with epinephrine (often in the form of an EpiPen).


Bites, especially those from animals, can introduce harmful bacteria into the body, increasing the risk of infection. The risk of infection increases when the wound is not cleaned and treated promptly. 

Bacterial infections can lead to localized redness, swelling, and pain around the bite area. In severe cases, a systemic infection can cause fever, chills, and the spread of bacteria throughout the body.

Parents should monitor the child closely for signs of infection, such as increasing pain, redness, pus, and fever, and seek medical care promptly if these symptoms manifest.

Venomous Stings

Venomous insects like certain types of bees and spiders can deliver stings that require specialized care due to the venom's effects on the body. The effects of venomous stings can range from localized pain and swelling to more severe symptoms.

Recognizing the type of insect responsible for the sting is essential in determining the appropriate course of action. In cases of venomous stings, professional medical care may be necessary to manage the effects of the venom and provide relief.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Bites & Stings

In the case of a bite or sting, quick and informed action is essential to ensure your child’s well-being. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of bites and stings is the first step in providing the right care. 

Here are some common indicators to look for include:

  • Pain: Bites and stings are often painful and may cause immediate discomfort.
  • Redness and Swelling: The affected area may become red and swollen, signaling an inflammatory response.
  • Itching: Itchiness around the bite or sting site is a common symptom.
  • Puncture Marks: Bites may leave small puncture marks, while stings can result in a small embedded stinger.
  • Hives or Rash: Allergic reactions can lead to the development of hives or a widespread rash.
  • Localized Heat: The skin around the bite or sting may feel warm to the touch.
  • Systemic Symptoms: In severe cases, systemic symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or difficulty breathing may occur.

First Aid and Medical Attention

Prompt first aid is crucial for alleviating immediate discomfort and reducing the risk of complications. For this:

  • Clean the bite or sting site with soap and water.
  • Use a cold compress for insect bites to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Keep the affected limb elevated if applicable.

While many bites and stings can be managed with first aid and home care, there are situations where professional medical care is not only beneficial but also essential.

Seek immediate professional medical care in the following cases:

  • Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)
  • Bites from unknown or potentially venomous creatures
  • Signs of infection, such as increasing redness, swelling, or fever
  • Multiple stings or bites
  • Stings in sensitive areas, such as the throat, mouth, or eyes

Treatment Options for Bites & Stings

The treatment methods for specific types of bites and stings may vary. This can include removing a stinger and using antihistamines for allergic reactions. In some cases, vaccinations may be recommended to protect against specific diseases, such as rabies, transmitted through animal bites.

Preventive Measures

Preventing bites and stings starts with proactive measures. Teaching your child to be aware of their surroundings during outdoor activities can significantly reduce the risk of bites and stings. 

Teach your child to recognize signs of insect activity, the appearance of certain animals, and the importance of caution when encountering unfamiliar creatures.

Additionally, proactive measures, such as using insect repellents and protective clothing, can offer added layers of defense.

Treating Bites & Stings in Children in Beverly Hills

At Robertson Pediatrics, we understand the unique challenges presented by childhood bites and stings. Our team of experienced pediatric providers offers the highest level of care, combining medical expertise with a child-friendly approach.

In case of an urgent situation, we also offer same-day visits in our clinic located in the heart of Beverly Hills. For appointments, please call us at 310-659-8687 or contact us online

150 N Robertson Blvd, Ste 307
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Phone: 310-659-8687
Fax: 310-659-2420

Working Hours
8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Open for Walk-ins Tues, Thurs & Fri: 4:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Concierge Patients have direct access 24/7 and will be accomodated with home/office visits as needed.
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