Physical and
Emotional Stress of
Insect Bites in Kids

Children, more than adults, are prone to mosquito bites(1). That’s because a bug bite harms a child’s immune system, although the effect fades as he or she grows up(2). Mosquito bites are common, although the effect may vary from one person to the next(3).

It is the children, too, who react more intensely to mosquito bites(4)

A big part of their skin swells and turns reddish. They may have hives and swollen lymph nodes, therefore it would be best to seek out immediate medical attention.

It’s interesting to note that mosquito bites come only from the female species(5). It is they who need blood to produce eggs. They may bite as much as 20 times before finding a small blood vessel and attacking it.

Physical effects of mosquito bites
Physical effects of mosquito bites

Small, itchy red bumps show themselves 24 hours after a mosquito bite(6). These red bumps are the body’s way of reacting to mosquito saliva that enters the  skin(7). Swollen hives, followed by red bumps may appear in older children and teens 24 hours after they get bitten.

  • Swelling. Mosquito bites in the upper part of the face can make the area around the eye swell for many days. The swollen part is pink and large, especially for children aged one to five years old(6).  
  • In rare cases, blisters, bruises and major inflammatory symptoms can appear in two to four-year-old children. These symptoms tend to decrease as children grow older(7)

As with any physical problems, complications can happen. Be sure to keep an eye out for these bacterial infections:

- Impetigo

  • Sores, soft scabs and pus occur due to scratching or picking at itchy insect bites.

- Cellulitis

  • This produces skin redness that brings pain when touched

- Lymphangitis

  • The infection, which travels up the lymph channels, produces a red line that goes up the arm or leg. This is more serious because it may spread into the bloodstream and cause sepsis.

If you are ever in doubt of any of these physical effects, consult a healthcare professional immediately.

Emotional Effects of Mosquito Bites in Children
Emotional Effects of Mosquito Bites in Children

Dr. Scott Goldstein, a pediatrician at Northwestern Children’s Practice in Chicago says toddlers and young children cannot express their feelings the way their older counterparts can(8).
Without realizing, some parents may brush off what their children experience, even if the itchy feeling and swelling are temporary. Thus, children feel stress from the physical problem and the emotional pain it brings. 

Besides treating the physical effects of mosquito or insect bites, parents therefore need to address its emotional costs to their children. Parents must recognize emotional costs, not only when a condition deteriorates, but when other problems crop up(9). It is just as important to find out how childhood stress affects the entire family, the child’s main source of solace and comfort.

family happily enjoy in garden

Parents should talk to their child in a way he or she understands when those itchy, red bumps from mosquito bites make him or her cry and feel uncomfortable.

A short, simple explanation about what caused the mosquito bite, why it made the child’s skin itch, swell and turn red, will help them deal with the physical and emotional pain involved. A great way to educate your child about relief is by using ointment that contains eucalyptus oil and camphor, which can provide temporary relief for pain and itch associated with mosquito bites. However, be sure to refrain from using ointments for children below the age of 2 years old.

Encourage the child to ask questions and answer them as calmly and factually as possible(10).

Now is also the time to teach the child why he or she must not scratch the infected part of their body, even if it feels incredibly itchy. A favorite toy, a happy story, or a stroll in the garden will  distract them and help them forget about the itchy insect bite, even for a while.

It is also the best time to teach children how important it is to protect themselves from mosquito bites by staying indoors when it gets dark and mosquitos are most active, wearing light-colored clothes with long sleeves, and pants and keeping those tiny fingernails from scratching the insect bite.

This will help the child cope with the itch and the pain of mosquito bites. As they grow older, they will be well equipped with knowledge on safeguarding themselves against mosquito bites, and seek out appropriate treatment where necessary.

Most of all, children who can lean on their parents when a mosquito, or any other insect bites, will gain comfort(11) in the thought that in any physical or emotional challenge they face, their parents will be right there with them.

  1. Mosquito Bite (n.d.) Retrieved Sept. 8, 2020 from
  2. Here’s What Every Parent Needs to Know About Mosquitos (July 5, 2019) Retrieved Sept. 8, 2020 from
  3. Bug Bites, Stings and Kids (May 20, 2019) Retrieved Sept. 8, 2020 from,-Stings-and-Kids
  4. Mosquito bites (n.d.) Retrieved Sept. 8, 2020 from
  5. Mosquito Bite (n.d.) Retrieved Sept. 8, 2020 from
  6. Mosquito Bite (n.d.) Retrieved Sept. 8, 2020 from
  7. The Itchy, Bumpy Blues: How to Treat and Prevent Mosquito Bites and Related Conditions (n.d.) Retrieved Sept. 8, 2020 from
  8. Silent Signs Your Child is Stressed (April 16, 2020) Retrieved Sept. 8, 2020 from
  9. Stress in Childhood (n.d.) Retrieved from
  10. Helping Children Feel Safe in Stressful Times (n.d.) Retrieved Sept. 8, 2020 from
  11. Helping Children Feel Safe in Stressful Times (n.d.) Retrieved Sept. 8, 2020 from