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Update 2 in first post back to ER!- calling Dr Hive any one experienced with fire ant bites?


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My grandson (DH and I are primary care givers) is 19 months and he just (about an hour ago) fell into a fire ant hill.

He has at least 30 welts mostly on one hand/arm-- arm is red and swollen... he is going to be a miserable mess in a few hours when the venom starts to itch/burn...

There are no pediatric urgent care open (of course)--

He is too young for telemed... nurseline doesnt want to make suggestions other than go to ER for a check.

Our local ERs are way understaffed--- and have mostly COVID patients! 

No Childrens Hospital within an hour +

Our plan right now is for the adults to take turns watching him and to call his pediatrician in the morning.

Back in the Dark Ages (20 years ago) we would have given a dose of Benadryl-- apparently that is NOT done any more...

Any ideas? 

*****Update 1:

I gave him a small dose of Benadryl -- swelling and redness went down a bit.  I checked on him a lot last night but this morning around 8 (12 hours after being stung) he developed hives and his arms turned dark red (face had swelling too).  DD and I took him to the closest ER (stand alone not hospital) that was about 3 minutes from our house.  They immediately gave him a shot  (Benadryl and a steroid).  The watched him for 20 or so minutes to make sure swelling was decreasing then sent him home.  They said we will know in about 8 hours if he needs a 2nd dose...

He weighs just under 30 pounds-- anything more than 5 bites per 10 pounds should be evaluated... he had over 30...

 

*****UPDATE 2

Back to ER-- he was doing fine for 8 hours-- then just as predicted his reaction returned WORSE than before -- it came on so fast it was terrifying.  DH is taking him this round.

Prayers appreciated...

--DH texted that they gave him more meds then a prescription for tomorrow.  We get to monitor him again all night...  thankfully the ER is minutes away and took him back immediately.

 

-------

 

Edited by Jann in TX
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I would give a dose of benadryl, apply hydrocortisone, and cold compresses.  But for 30-50 bites, I'd seriously consider an ER visit, or at least sitting in the car in the parking lot of the ER.  I'd worry about a severe reaction with that many bites in a toddler.  

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My oldest son did the same thing at about the same age. He had about 30 - 50 bites all up and down each of his legs.

I second the benedryl. Oatmeal baths, aloe vera and something like afterbite cream for the itching.

He is going to be miserable and I'd watch for signs of an anaphylactic reaction over the next 48 hours and maybe a peds visit within a week if you can. 

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Poor little guy! I hope he can sleep. 
I react to fire ant bites and in addition to the advice given above, I usually take Motrin or Tylenol. But I don’t know if that’s appropriate for such a young child. Also, watch for cellulitis. I’ve had that with ant bites twice in the past three years. 

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Frankly I’d take him to the ER too.

If that’s not an option you can google benadryl weight charts, just make sure you’re comparing the correct concentration.  And make sure you have his current weight. I think the liquid comes in at least two concentrations. 

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2 minutes ago, Annie G said:

Poor little guy! I hope he can sleep. 
I react to fire ant bites and in addition to the advice given above, I usually take Motrin or Tylenol. But I don’t know if that’s appropriate for such a young child. Also, watch for cellulitis. I’ve had that with ant bites twice in the past three years. 

Motrin/Ibuprofen isn't a bad idea since it is an anti-inflammatory.

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When I was a child and was bitten up by fire ants, my mother soaked me in a bath with baking soda. Apparently quite a lot of baking soda. I survived, and you mostly can't see the scars now unless you know where to look and are looking very closely indeed. Google suggests a paste is better, which makes sense.

With that said, I'd take the kid to the ER unless it extremely swamped where you are. And even if it IS swamped, if your child starts exhibiting signs of an allergic reaction, bring him in.

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Late to the thread but we use toothpaste on red ant stings - they're probably not as bad as your ants but they're pretty awful.  It's been "explained" to me that the calcium in the toothpaste neutralizes the acid of the sting - not especially scientific but worth a shot if you have nothing else.  We used to carry toothpaste with us when we knew we'd find some on our hikes.

Edited by Harpymom
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I'd look up bendryl dosage (bottle won't tell you for that age, but there are hospital and doctor websites with the dosage for all ages) and give that every 4-6 hours, plus oatmeal bath, plus cortisone cream. 

And be prepared to go to ER. 

Also, I'd order a venom extractor, since you live where there are fire ants. Works on wasp stings, snake bites, etc as well. Too late now, but for the future. https://amzn.to/3iPRORf

I used it on a wasp sting recently and it was amazing! I saw a tiny bit of clear fluid come out, and it never swelled up, itched, hurt, etc after that!

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  • Jann in TX changed the title to Update in first post- calling Dr Hive any one experienced with fire ant bites?

Glad he was able to be seen- I’m sure that you feel better knowing a medical professional has set eyes on him and has given you some guidance. 
Hope he feels better soon. And I hope you can get some sleep tonight. 

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10 hours ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Isn't this the child who didn't have health insurance?  I can understand the reluctance for the ER unless absolutely necessary.  (But I wouldn't hesitate if there are signs of allergic reaction).

Benadryl is not recommended for children under age 2. 

Yes, this is the one!  He did end up with a crappy policy through the end of 2021...

I paid out of pocket for ER trip this morning-- it was $350 (cheaper than hospital ER would have been).

Too many people were using Benadryl to force babies to sleep... it is still valuable to have around for these situations.

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12 hours ago, Seasider too said:

. Pretty sure we also got a Benadryl dose, too. I wonder why that’s no longer done?

overdosing mainly. It is easier to overdose on cold and fever medicine (or any liquid medication).
https://www.fda.gov/drugs/special-features/use-caution-when-giving-cough-and-cold-products-kids
“A meeting about the safety and effectiveness of cough and cold drug product use in children by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2007 revealed that there were many reports of harm, and even death, in children who used these products. During 2004-2005, an estimated 1,519 children less than 2 years of age were treated in U.S. emergency departments for adverse events, including overdoses, associated with cough and cold medications. Manufacturers voluntarily removed over-the-counter (OTC) infant cough and cold products intended for children under 2 years of age due to these safety concerns.

Treating Toddlers and Older Children

Cough and cold products for children older than 2 years of age were not affected by the voluntary removal and these products are still sold in pharmacies and other retail outlets. Manufactures also voluntarily re-labeled these cough and cold products to state: “do not use in children under 4 years of age.” ”

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This is after the fact but in case anyone searches this topic and lands on this thread in the future...

Alum paste (alum from spice rack in grocery store with a little water) makes a wonderful anti-itch/anti-welt home remedy for mosquito and fire ant bites. Me, my oldest DD, and youngest DS are SUPER allergic to bites, and in Texas the mosquitos are the size of pterodactyls and fire ants are the most evil creatures on Earth sending fiery blisters out like death rays when you least expect it. When the kids were little, we would paste them all over and wrap an ace-bandage over the entire area like a mummy. Really gave some relief. We still use Alum paste on all bites as needed. I also pour vinegar on fire ant bites first, then paste. We can rarely get away with Benadryl just because usually too busy to be drowsy, but we make liberal use of the Benadryl sprays and creams (better for mosquitoes than ants in our experience). My Granny turned me on to Alum after DD had a few bites during a visit to her Great-Granny's house. Granny said this was the norm long before Benadryl came along since Alum was a popular pickling ingredient on hand. 

Take that for what it's worth...just passing on what has worked for us. Disclaimer--always head to ER in extreme cases as described above!

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  • Jann in TX changed the title to Update 2 in first post back to ER!- calling Dr Hive any one experienced with fire ant bites?

I'm kind a confused on why they didn't prescribe a continued dose for 24-48 hours to prevent the recurrence?  Maybe it's dependent on the area of the country.  That is what they do here.  I hope he improves quickly!

Edited by melmichigan
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1 minute ago, melmichigan said:

I'm kind a confused on why they didn't prescribe a continued dose for 24-48 hours to prevent the recurrence?  Maybe it's dependent on the area of the country.  That is what they do here.

I think they were wanting to avoid unnecessary meds for such a little guy.

 

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10 minutes ago, Jann in TX said:

I think they were wanting to avoid unnecessary meds for such a little guy.

 

Steroids and Benadryl are second nature around our house, and have been since we brought our twins home, but they are also always given with careful prescribing information.  I can understand them being cautious.  Hopefully they can put together a discharge plan that doesn't include you going back in another 8 hours in the event that it doesn't settle down. 🤞he's a 24 hour case.  You might want to follow-up with his pediatrician to see if carrying epi would be recommended based on his reaction or if there would be other treatment recommendations in case he's exposed again in the future.

Edited by melmichigan
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22 hours ago, Jann in TX said:

 

He weighs just under 30 pounds-- anything more than 5 bites per 10 pounds should be evaluated... he had over 30...

 

 

I am sorry for your grandson and hope he will be feeling better soon.  I appreciate this information -- it is good to know.

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1 hour ago, matrips said:

I would also start thinking about how to wrap his legs so he can’t scratch the bites and risk infection.

Anti-itch cream then use gauze roll bandage to wrap the arms. If OP has oversized baby mittens, those can be useful too to cover his hands when sleeping. Eczema and hives run on my side of the family, and my nephews when small would sometimes scratch and cause bleeding. 

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