'Bloody scary': four-year-old suffers allergic reaction after handling caterpillar

Esme suffered an allergic reaction after holding the caterpillar.
Esme suffered an allergic reaction after holding the caterpillar.  Photo: Facebook/ Donna Fry

It was a simple play in the garden that nobody realised would end up with little Esme in the back of an ambulance and on her way to hospital.

Mother Donna Fry took to Facebook to warn others about common garden critters, after her daughter had a horrifying reaction after handling a caterpillar.

Ms Fry shared several images one Facebook - one shows her four-year-old daughter Esme holding a caterpillar, while the next shows the little girl's face completely swollen as she lies in an ambulance after suffering an allergic reaction.

In the post, Ms Fry said she encourages her daughter to "enjoy and touch little creatures" but said this time the caterpillar unexpectedly caused an issue.

"I'm not sure why," Ms Fry continued, "she's held them hundreds of times."

In the comments the mum explained that Esme's face and mouth swelled up, after which her dad had called an ambulance.

"They gave her an injection in the ambulance and she responded well," Ms Fry said, saying they gave her antihistamines and steroids when they got to the hospital which also helped. Ms Fry described the experience as "bloody scary".

"On the way the swelling got worse, so she had more at the hospital, and they've put her on steroids for a few days, so scary" Ms Fry added, saying, "They seem to have done the trick!"

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 "She's definitely improving!" she assured concerned friends online.

Doctors explained that Esme most likely picked up a freshly hatched oak processionary caterpillar, which contains a substance called thaumetopoein in its hair, which can irritate skin, airways and eyes in humans and animals.

Friends and family responded to the post saying they were shocked a common creature could cause that kind of reaction.

Her dad called an ambulance where they gave her an injection to reduce the swelling

Her dad called an ambulance where they gave her an injection to reduce the swelling Photo: Facebook/ Donna Fry

One mother responded to the post saying her son had a similar reaction after holding a caterpillar.

"This happened to my Andrew once. He accidentally rubbed his eye after handling a caterpillar despite my frequent warnings," the woman wrote "I hope she gets well soon & it doesn't put her off her love of critters!"

"I'd never have known you could react like that!" Ms Fry said in disbelief.

"I think I'm future she will be friends from a distance."