Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Other parents have also reported similar experiences with their children.

Exposing children in experiential learning activities can be a great way to engage their emotions, improve knowledge and communication skills among other benefits. 

Donna Fry, mum of 4-year-old Esme shared that she has always encouraged her little one to “enjoy things” and “touch little creatures”.

And that applies to caterpillars as well, which Esme has held “100s of times”, her mum wrote in a Facebook post (20 June).

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Photo: Facebook/Donna Fry

According to Esme’s dad, Robert Matthews, Esme kept the caterpillar as a pet and even named him “Benny”.  

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Photo: Facebook/Robert Matthews

Thus, when Esme developed a massive allergic reaction from touching the caterpillar recently, it puzzled her mum.

According to her, Esme’s face and mouth swelled up and her dad had to call for an ambulance. She was also given an injection in the ambulance en route to the hospital.

While Esme was said to have “responded well”, the swelling got worse and doctors had to administer more medication. Esme was also put on steroids for a few days. 

Her mum described the experience as “bloody scary”.

According to reports from the SUN, Esme also had “raised rash up and down her arms”. 

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Photo: Facebook/Donna Fry

Allergic Reaction from Touching Caterpillar

According to Esme’s mum, the doctor attributed the possible cause of Esme’s severe reaction to her being in contact with a freshly hatched, oak processionary caterpillar. 

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Photo: Facebook screengrab

Their hairs contain thaumetopoein, a substance that can irritate the skin, airways and eyes. They can cause swelling and even breathing difficulties. 

And this is not only specific to the oak processionary caterpillar.

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Photo: Facebook screengrab

While most caterpillars are said to be harmless, some can cause allergic reactions, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

This could occur especially if an individual’s eyes, skin, or lungs come into contact with their hairs, and in the event of consuming them. 

On the Road to Recovery

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Photo: Facebook/Robert Matthews

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Photo: Facebook/Donna Fry

Esme’s mum says her little one is “definitely improving”, thanks to the antihistamines and steroids administered.

The little girl still has to take them for a couple more days.  

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Photo: Facebook screengrab

In light of the family’s experience, other parents have also reported similar experiences with their children.

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Photo: Facebook screengrab

Mum Carolyn Leigh shared that her son had rubbed his eye on accident after being in contact with a caterpillar. 

This was despite her frequent warnings of the dangers that came with handling caterpillars.

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

Photo: Facebook screengrab

How to Keep Caterpillars Out of Your Home

The key is to prevent these little critters from hatching in your home. These tips can help: 

  • Wash and dry all your clothing about once a month (even if you do not wear them)
  • Vacuum the areas where you keep your clothing (e.g. closet, wardrobe, etc)
  • Keep dirty clothes in a sealed bag or hamper until they are set for washing (moths are attracted to sweat and moisture)
  • Seal clothing you seldom wear in plastic hanging bags – to avoid long-term infestation 
  • Keep your home munch-free. Keep pantry food such as bread, cereal, and pasta among others in sealed plastic containers.
  • Refrigerate fruits and keep them in plastic bags.
  • Ensure regular vacuuming of crumbs 
  • Clean pantry about once a month (or more)
  • Avoid leaving food in the open

And in the event if you or someone you know suffers an allergic reaction from contact with a caterpillar, here’s a general first aid measure you can follow:

  • Remove the caterpillar carefully with forceps or tweezers (do not use your bare hands to remove or squash the insect).
  • Use sticky tape (especially duct tape) to strip off any remaining hairs from the affected area.
  • Immediately wash the area with soap and water.
  • Remove contaminated clothing and wash thoroughly.

You can view her full post here:

Lead image via Facebook/Donna Fry and Facebook/Robert Matthews.

ALSO READ: 

A Guide To Common Food Allergies In Kids

Singapore mum warns about sunscreen allergy after child suffers swollen face and rashes

Toddler Rashes: Watch Out for These 15 Common Children’s Skin Conditions

Mum's Warning After Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction From Touching a Common Caterpillar

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Written by

Jia Ling

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