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That little furry thing can be a nightmare in a broad daylight.

Retno Wulandari   18 May 2017 21:00

Hate is a strong word, but maybe we all can agree that we all hate caterpillars.

A slight contact with those furry little things can lead to a severe itch. At first, you might sense a tickled feeling on your skin, followed by a stinging and burning sensation — not to mention the itchiness.

The fine thorns of caterpillars can cause problems because they bear special toxins that are used to defend themselves from predators — or gullible humans like us.

Such incident might happen from time to time, especially if you like to stay outdoors. But fret not, we're here to help you!

Here are the things that can help you should your fate lead you to a caterpillar poisoning.

Symptoms of caterpillar poisoning

Shortly after you make skin contact with a caterpillar, your body begins to show various symptoms of poisoning. The symptoms include rashes or bumps on the skin’s surface, sore and redness and itchy feelings. If the caterpillar’s thorns get into your eye, you may experience sore eye and irritation. If it enters your respiratory tract, you may become difficult to breathe and cough. Worse, if you accidentally swallow a caterpillar, you’ll begin to vomit, drool and get irritation in oral cavity and lips.

First aid after a contact with caterpillar

1) Find a safe way to get rid of that little brat

If a caterpillar accidentally sticks to your skin, do not take it with bare hands! You should not hit it as long as it is on the surface of the skin. Hitting a caterpillar will only spread its poison to the rest of your body. Remove or caterpillar with paper, twigs or leaves.

2) Clean the skin from the fine thorns

After the caterpillar is removed, don’t touch the skin, let alone scratching it. Look for masking tape, duct tape or plaster. Paste in the skin of the caterpillar and pull it as hard as possible. Repeat several times with new tape. That is to pull out the rest of the caterpillar’s thorns left on your skin.

3) Wash with water and soap

To make sure that your skin is completely clean from the caterpillar poison, wash with water and soap. No need to rub it too harsh, because the poison may move to other parts of the skin. Dry the skin by slapping the area using a soft towel.

Overcome the itch and other caterpillar poisoning symptoms

Caterpillar poisoning can be cured. However, how long the cure will take time depends on the caterpillar species, your current immune state, how severe the contacts are between the skin and the caterpillars and the handling of the incident. Here is a guide to treat itching and other caterpillar poisoning symptoms.

  • Compress the rash with ice cubes wrapped in a soft cloth. Let it put for 15-20 minutes. Repeat every hour until you feel more comfortable.
  • Apply calamine lotion or anti-allergic powder to the itchy area.
  • Do not scratch the itchy skin. Scratching will only cause wounds and infections because your skin tissue is in trouble at this time.
  • Get medications for allergy, such as cetirizine and diphenhydramine.
  • Take pain relievers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.

When to see a doctor?

You should check with your doctor if the irritated skin starts to look blistered or fester. However, if you really feel very uncomfortable or the symptoms are quite severe, just see a doctor immediately. If it's a baby or toddler who get the caterpillar poisoning, don’t give them any medication before consulting a pediatrician.

The article was previously published in Hellosehat.com and all medical data have been reviewed by a licensed medical doctor.

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