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Definition Return to top
Caterpillars (long, fuzzy, segmented insects) are unable to pierce the skin with their bite. However, their hairs may get into the skin or eyes, causing symptoms in the area where the hairs entered.
Problems also can occur if someone breathes in caterpillar hairs that have been released into the air, or eats caterpillars.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Symptoms Return to top
Home Care Return to top
Remove irritating caterpillar hairs. On skin, apply adhesive tape (such as duct or masking tape) to the site, then pull off. Repeat as needed until all hairs are removed. Follow with calamine lotion, and apply ice to the affected area.
Flush the eyes immediately with plenty of water before seeking professional medical help.
If you develop respiratory symptoms after inhaling caterpillar hairs, take beta-agonist inhalers or antihistamines (if available), then seek professional medical care.
Before Calling Emergency Return to top
Determine the following information:
Poison Control Return to top
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
See: Poison control center - emergency number
What to Expect at the Emergency Room Return to top
The health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. You may receive:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery. The outcome is usually very good.Update Date: 2/17/2009 Updated by: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (2/7/2008).