How to treat bee stings in children

Remember to keep a cool head and act quickly if your child is stung by a bee. In most cases, the pain will go away after a few hours.

How to treat bee stings in children
 The most common symptom of a bee sting is swelling, pain, and redness at the sting site.

One bee sting is all it takes for your bug loving child to realise they should never touch a bee again.

While a bee sting is painful and can cause lots of tears, it is often not dangerous for children – unless your child is allergic to bee stings.

Bees inject poison into the skin when they attack – or, more typically, when they are threatened or provoked. This venom contains proteins that impact the immune system, resulting in discomfort and swelling around the stung location.

Children allergic to bee venom can have a severe reaction to a sting, known as anaphylaxis, which can be severe and even fatal if not treated immediately.

Symptoms of a bee sting

Here are some of the most typical bee sting symptoms:

  • Local pain or burning (which can last for one to two hours)
  • Itching (which can last for a few days)
  • Swelling (which can last for 48 hours)
  • Redness (which can last for about three days)

If your child is sensitive to bee stings, they may suffer from anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction in which a child may develop hives and have difficulty breathing and swallowing.

What is the best way to treat a bee sting in children?

When it comes to bee stings, timing is of the essence. Here’s what you should do:

Remove the stinger (if there is one) as soon as possible: The shorter the time a bee stinger is in the skin, the less time the venom has to do its work. Often the sting will protrude from the skin. Remove the stinger by scraping it with your fingernail, a credit card, or any other solid, flat instrument. Never use tweezers to remove the stinger, as this can pump more venom into the skin.

Clean the area: Wash the affected area gently with mild soap and water

Cool the skin: Apply an ice pack or a cold, wet facecloth to the bee sting for up to 20 minutes to relieve pain and swelling.

Use an over-the-counter pain reliever: Give them an age-appropriate amount of pain medication if your child is in pain. 

Ask about antihistamines: If your child is itchy, ask your pharmacist for age-appropriate over-the-counter antihistamines. Calamine lotion or corticosteroid cream, which relieve itching, can also treat bee stings in children. 

If necessary, seek medical attention: If you suspect your child is having an anaphylactic reaction or if a bee stings the inside of their mouth, take them to the doctor or emergency department right away. If your child is stung by many bees, they should also be taken to the emergency room.

How to determine whether your child is allergic to bee stings

Unlike other allergies, you may not realise your child is allergic to bees until they get stung. If your child exhibits any of the following symptoms of anaphylaxis, call an ambulance or take them to the nearest emergency room right away:

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Lip, tongue, or face swelling
  • Hives
  • Skin that is flushed or pale
  • Weak or fast pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

Fortunately, anaphylaxis treatment is quick and straightforward: a dose of epinephrine will cure a child’s symptoms almost as rapidly as the bee sting that caused them.

How to keep your child safe from bee stings

Sometimes a bee sting is simply the result of bad luck. However, you can take steps to avoid attracting – and aggravating – bees.

Avoid areas where bees may congregate

This includes regions near waste, flowers, trees with many fallen fruit underneath them, or dog excrement, where flies can attract bees.

Don’t give them sugary treats when outside

When your child eats or drinks outside, do not give them any sweets or sugary beverages as these treats can attract bees.

Teach your child not to swat at bees or other insects

Some insects will sting if threatened, even if it is only by a pint-sized hand.

Cover your child’s face

If you must visit a bee-infested region, clothe your child in fitted long sleeves, slacks, closed-toe shoes, and a hat. Floral prints and bright colours should be avoided since they can attract bees.

Always keep an EpiPen on hand

If you know your child is allergic to bees, keep an EpiPen in your bag, and in your car.