All About Flea and Spider Bites in Children

Flea and spider bites in children can cause great concern for parents. Reactions can range from local irritation to severe anaphylaxis. Keep reading to learn more.
All About Flea and Spider Bites in Children
Maria del Carmen Hernandez

Reviewed and approved by the dermatologist Maria del Carmen Hernandez.

Last update: 22 December, 2021

The vast majority of flea and spider bites in children aren’t poisonous and don’t usually transmit disease. However, the two differ when it comes to the appearance of the lesions that they leave on the skin’s surface.

Fortunately, there are preventive measures and ways to manage them at home. Today, we’ll tell you all about them.

Types of spider mites

Different types of spiders produce symptoms characteristic of the species. While the typical spider bite lesion is manifested by two inoculation points covered with a scab, the symptoms described below can provide guidance as to the type of spider that’s responsible for the bite:

  • Recluse spider: This type of spider is domestic and its United States variant is usually not too toxic, although bites may sometimes require medical attention. Its elementary lesion causes mild pain and after a few hours a reddish halo. This will later evolve into a necrotic ulcer.
  • Tarantula: A tarantula bite causes pain but only local reactions. Besides biting, this spider has thin hairs covering its body and legs that have the ability to arouse allergic reactions.
  • Black widow spider: A black widow spider bite usually goes unnoticed at the time, but after a few minutes, intense pain and increased body sweating appear.

Signs and symptoms of flea and spider bites in children

The magnitude of the skin reaction to flea and spider bites is generally greatest in early childhood. It then slowly decreases as the child matures.

Although all bites can cause allergic reactions, the severity of the reaction will depend on the individual and the degree of sensitivity to the insect’s venom.

Minor signs and symptoms

A minor skin reaction’s common at the site of the sting, causing pain and itching around the sting. In some cases, a more important reaction may be triggered, which will appear in the form of a larger red lesion (erythematous) and with a raised appearance (due to edema). Sometimes, small watery vesicles may also appear.

A spider bite on a person's skin.

Regarding the type of insect, we observe the following characteristics:

  • The characteristic lesions of spiders consist of colored papules with two central dots.
  • Flea bite lesions cause a lot of local irritation but rarely develop more extensive allergic reactions. They’re characterized by the presence of multiple small papules that cluster on areas of the body where clothing is tight-fitting.

The prevention of flea and spider bites in children

Prevention is always better than having to treat skin lesions caused by insects. To do so, you can use some of the following strategies:

Insect repellents

The most effective insect repellents are those containing icardin or the chemical N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET). There are several products with this formula that have been specially developed for children.

According to the current recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, products containing DEET shouldn’t be used in children under 2 months of age. And after this age and up to 6 months, the concentration of this compound in repellents shouldn’t exceed 10%.


There are preventive measures for avoiding insect bites in open places. Some of them are the following:

  • Cover baby strollers with mosquito nets.
  • Dress children with long sleeves and pants.
  • Maintain adequate hygiene in the rooms and ventilate them frequently.
  • Deep clean of the corners of the house.
  • Deworm pets periodically
  • Avoid walking barefoot on the lawn.

You may be interested in: 10 Skincare Tips for Babies and Children

The treatment of bites

In most cases, flea and spider bites in children can be managed at home. In cases where the reaction’s more severe, you should see a physician.

When a spider bite injury is detected, the first thing to do is to wash the area and apply a cold compress. Depending on the symptoms, analgesic medication, topical corticosteroids, or antihistamines may be required.

With any bite, it’s important to avoid scratching in order not to provoke an additional bacterial infection.

When should you see a doctor?

Rarely, children may have a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis. Therefore, if the child has any symptoms or signs of anaphylaxis, you should call an ambulance immediately. The following are the warning signs for this condition:

A baby coughing.
  • Coughing, wheezing, or choking
  • Slurred speech and/or a hoarse voice
  • A generalized rash (hives) or severe itching
  • Difficulty in breathing and swallowing
  • Tongue and lip edema
  • Fainting
  • Pallor or limpness in young children

In addition, flea and spider lesions in children may cause cellulitis around the lesion. This is evident when the skin appears warmer, redder, and becomes painful to the touch. In this case, the child will need to start antibiotic treatment.

Conclusions regarding flea and spider bites in children

Flea and spider bites in children are very common conditions in which only topical treatment and the management of signs and symptoms will suffice. Likewise, if you have any doubts, medical consultation with a specialist should be sought.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.