caterpillar sting

Treating a caterpillar sting

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A caterpillar sting causes mild itching and tingling sensations to a severe allergic reaction. There are species of caterpillars that can sting. The hairs of some species have toxins which functions as a protective shield.

In most cases, caterpillars do not have stingers, but the toxins are released through the barbed spines. With a slight touch of the area, the hair breaks away from the body of the caterpillar and toxin is spread on the area of contact.

Symptoms of a caterpillar sting

  • Acute conjunctivitis if hairs penetrates the eye
    Caterpillar stings
    Pain and development of small red bumps.
  • Caterpillar dermatitis that causes itchiness, blisters, contact dermatitis and welts.
  • Pain and development of small red bumps
  • Inflammation of the upper airways, nausea, vomiting, bronchospasm and headaches.
  • Bleeding and renal failure


  • Once there is itching and burning sensation felt at the area of contact, stay calm and relax. Avoid being anxious and do not move around to prevent the spread of venom in the body.
  • Cover the sting site using cellophane tape or adhesive tape. Strip the tape repeatedly at least once or twice to remove the hair of the caterpillar on the affected area.
  • Wash the affected area using soap and hot water to eliminate remaining toxins and hair still present on the surface of the skin. Any dirty clothes should also be washed in hot water.
  • Wrap ice cubes in a towel and place on the affected area for at least 5-10 minutes every 1-2 hours to lessen swelling, pain and burning sensations.
  • Mix baking powder and a few drops of water until it becomes a paste and apply to the sting site to lessen severe itchiness and mild skin reactions.
  • Take the prescribed antihistamine medications to lessen severe itchiness.
  • Mix a teaspoon of sandalwood powder with ½ teaspoon of water until it becomes a paste and apply on the sting site to lessen redness and itchiness.
  • Another remedy to lessen pain and itching is aloe vera gel. Open the leaf of an aloe vera plant, collect the sap and then apply it over the sting site. Let it remain for at least one hour before washing using cold water. If fresh aloe vera leaf is not available, use an aloe vera gel.
  • Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medications to lessen the pain and inflammation.
  • Elevate the affected area to lessen swelling.

If there is swelling, oozing of fluid, rashes and changes in skin coloration, seek medical help immediately.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on a caterpillar sting is for learning purposes only. Learn to provide proper wound care for a caterpillar sting by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.


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