Cellulitis from a bug bite? Yes! And here’s what to look for.

cellulitis mosquito bite tips for parents mosquito on skin
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Cellulitis from a mosquito bite?

Can you get cellulitis from a mosquito bite? Cellulitis from an insect bite? In a word, yes! It’s happened to us. Twice! Despite our snow squalls here in PA yesterday, I have seen mosquitoes already this year.

My son has always had the worst time with bug bites, fly bites, mosquito bites, you name it.

cellulitis mosquito bite
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I remember one time when he was just a baby. I think he was around 1. Brian wasn’t born yet, and we were at an outdoor party. He got this huge fly bite on his leg out of nowhere, no one else even saw them or was affected. He screamed bloody murder. I felt awful. Ever since then, whenever we go out as a family, we’ll all come home just fine and he’ll have dozens of bug bites. Lots of insect bites too, not just one or two. Poor kid.

Insect bites into Cellulitis

Not only will he get more bug bites than the rest of us, but they are so much worse. Big, red, swollen, itchy. Of course, he scratches them which makes them worse. The other day when he got out of bed, he had two huge bites. I guess something got him overnight because I would have seen these. One was on his forehead and one was on his neck. The one on his neck was big and swollen, the size of a golf ball.

These incidents (and this blog post) happened 5+ years ago. I didn’t know about sepsis then. Read that link about sepsis (it’s also below) so that you know the warning signs. Sepsis can turn into a disaster very quickly.

Anyway, on Friday, his class went to a park for their outing. No surprise, they reported that he got bites on his legs while they were out. Overall, I’m not a fan of spraying him with chemicals, which is why we’ve refrained from repellents for everyday stuff. For outdoor hikes and activities, yes, I spray him. But not to go to school. So he got a few more bites on Friday on their outing. But I didn’t pay much attention to them. (Now he keeps a bottle of insect repellent in his locker.)

Mosquito Bite Cellulitis

However, on Saturday when he woke up, he was so much worse. His whole lower legs were swollen, both of them. We jokingly kept telling him he had cankles. His bug bites were warm to the touch and much of his leg was red. I did what any mom does in this day and age of social media, I posted a photo of his legs on Facebook.

The backs of his legs were worse than the fronts, the bites were bigger and redder. But you can at least see his cankles and the fact that they are much bigger than just a bug bite.

infected insect bug bites cellulitis
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The photos don’t show the backs as well, which were much worse than the fronts.

So, I asked for advice and I tried some of the remedies that were given to me.

Cellulitis from Insect Bites

Then a few {nurse} friends mentioned a word I’ve never heard before–cellulitis. A few of the online sources I read said that cellulitis can lead to sepsis due to strep bacteria and even meningitis. If you know my family, you know that we lost my 8m old niece to meningitis, so the word sends me into a panic. But, by this time it was lunchtime, was it really ER worthy?

Off to the CVS Minute Clinic we went, the one at Longwood. The visit was perfect, very little waiting. The Nurse Practitioner confirmed that while this could be just how he reacts to bug bites, it could be the beginning of an infection or cellulitis. Kevin is non-verbal AND he has a very high pain and discomfort threshold. That could be a recipe for disaster with something like this. I always err on the side of caution with him.

I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on the internet. This is just what she told us to do. Ask your doctor if you think your child’s bite is serious.

What to do for Insect Bites to prevent infection and Cellulitis.

  1. Read these tips on how to tell if a non-verbal child is sick.
  2. Keep nails trimmed short and hands washed, to prevent the spread of infection by scratching.
  3. Ask your doctor about an antihistamine, to reduce inflammation and itching and to hopefully make him want to scratch less.
  4. NOTE: Benadryl lowers seizure threshold, so please talk with your doctor before giving your child anything.
  5. Topical treatments for bites, as usual.
  6. Educate yourself on what Sepsis is and what to look for. Sepsis is life-threatening!
  7. Good bug repellent to prevent future bites. I just placed an order with Avon.
  8. Watch him for any changes and go to ER if concerned, including checking for fever.
  9. Stay inside during worst bug/mosquito times which are morning and evening.

Our visit to the CVS Minute Clinic was perfect. It was exactly what we needed. A little something to get us through until he could visit his regular doctor, but not an ER visit. And we wanted something that would cure the infection and prevent it from getting worse. I am calling the doctor first thing tomorrow, but for right now I have peace of mind.

Note: While I have done sponsored posts for CVS Minute Clinic in the past, this is not one of them. All opinions are my own. This post was originally published in 2013 but was updated recently to check links.

cellulitis insect bite tips for parents for kids showing a photo of a mosquito
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And this might help....

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