Bee stings in children

Bee stings in children

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If a bee or wasp stings your child, remove the stinger as soon as you can and apply ice. Allergic reactions are rare but watch for swelling and other signs. Make sure children wears shoes outdoors to avoid being stung if they step on a bee.

What should I do if a bee or wasp stings my child?

A bee's stinger works like an automatic pump – the longer it stays in, the more venom it releases – so get it out as quickly as you can. Take these steps:

• Look for a little black dot in the center of a reddened area and scrape it off with a fingernail or credit card. Try not to squeeze the stinger with your fingers or tweezers, because that could release more venom.

• Once you've removed the stinger, wash the area with soap and water.

• Elevate the area, if you can, to reduce swelling.

• Apply an ice pack (wrapped in a cloth) for 15 minutes to minimize swelling and relieve pain. (If you don't have an ice pack, grab a package of frozen vegetables, or drop a few ice cubes in a plastic bag.)

• To soothe the area and draw out some of the venom, apply a paste of baking soda and water. (Simply dab it on, let it dry, and rinse it off.)

• For pain, you can give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

• If your child is really uncomfortable and he's at least 6 months old, the doctor may recommend an over-the-counter children's oral antihistamine to help relieve itching and swelling.

The pain usually begins to go away after a few hours, although the swelling may increase for another day or two. In the meantime, continue to apply ice, if your child will let you.

Dr. P. Marazzi / Science Source

When to call the doctor for a bee sting

• If your child was stung many times. Multiple stings can be dangerous, even if your child doesn't have an allergic reaction. Venom from numerous stings can cause vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and fever.

• If the sting is in your child's mouth. This can cause dangerous swelling that might block her airways. Take your child to a healthcare provider or the ER immediately.

• If the swelling continues to increase after two days, or if swelling in a hand or foot spreads past the wrist or ankle, even if your child was only stung once.

• The area where your child was stung develops red streaks, yellowish fluid, or is becoming redder. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to combat infection.

Can bee stings cause dangerous allergic reactions?

On rare occasions, a child will have a severe allergic reaction to a sting. This is called anaphylactic shock, and it can be deadly. Call 911 immediately if you notice these signs of an allergic reaction within a few minutes or hours of the sting:

  • Swelling of the skin, lips, throat, tongue, or face
  • Wheezing or severe breathing problems
  • Rapid or weak pulse, or irregular heartbeat
  • Hives
  • Dizziness, fainting, loss of consciousness
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea
  • Extremely pale skin, sweating, or blue skin color
  • Confusion, slurred speech

How can I protect my child from bee stings?

Unfortunately, insect repellents don't protect against bees and wasps. But there are some things you can do to minimize your child's chances of being stung:

• Don't use perfumed soaps or toiletries on him, because the scent will attract bees.

• Dress him in light-colored, solid fabrics rather than dark, brightly colored, or flower-printed clothing, which attracts bees.

• Make sure your child wears shoes when playing outside, because people are often stung when they step on a bee.

• Be especially alert when you're near blooming flowers or orchards, which attract bees.

• Teach your child not to swat at bees and wasps. Teach her to walk away (bees and wasps are not very fast.)

• Keep dishes of food covered when you're outside.

• Repair any torn screens in your windows and doors at home.

• Consider using netting around your child's crib or bed if bees or wasps are finding their way indoors. You can also use netting over your child's infant seat, playpen, backpack, or stroller when you have her outdoors during bug season.

• Destroy beehives and wasp nests around your home.

Learn more:

Watch the video: First Aid for a Bee Sting (July 2022).


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