Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."

Insect Bites

Question: My 3-year-old daughter appears to have some kind of bite on two of her fingers. It itched for a couple of days, thenthe skin on those fingers seemed very hard, almost callouslike. Now the fingers look like there are little blisters on them and the are is peeling. The skin is still hard underneath also. I'm at a loss because I have no idea what it is or what bite her. I hope you have some advice for me. Elizabeth

Answer: It sounds like what you described....some sort of bite, possibly a very small insect like an ant. It itched, so your daughter scratched it! This in turn caused the hardened skin also known as a callous (callous). This is a typical reaction.

What may have happened, is that the skin that she was scratching became infected and inflamed.

Once skin is broken, (first line of defense for infection) any number of germs may cause infection. Bacteria such as Staph or Strep may cause infection. Viruses, if present on the skin may also be the cause. Red ants may cause a local reaction with blister formation. This is usually what is called a sterile abscess. As the ant bites, it releases formic acid, which is irritating and inflammatory to tissues. If these blisters are not broken, it usually resolves on it's own. Infection occurs if these blisters are broken.

Keeping the skin clean and applying topical antibiotic ointments will help with the local infection. If it seems to be spreading or if there are other signs of infection (pain, fever, swelling, etc.), please have it looked at by your daughter's doctor immediately. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!"

Dr. Betti

Also see:

  • My 12 year old daughter experiences difficulty sleeping due to fear of the dark and being alone. Is this normal?
  • What is the cause of ITP and is there anything that can prevent it from recurring?
  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.