You want your child to enjoy the great outdoors, but the tradeoff for time outside is exposure to bees and other biting or stinging insects. A bee sting can be scary and slightly painful – but most parents can soothe their child and the site of the injury at home with no complications.
According to some experts, only about 3% of children experience an allergic reaction after being stung.
Here’s how Dr. Margaret Lubega of First Pediatric Care Center in Gastonia, North Carolina, suggests you take care of your child’s bee sting, plus her advice on when to seek medical care.
Normal bee sting reaction
After the initial pinch of a bee sting, your child may develop pain, redness, itchiness, and swelling around the site. This is completely normal.
Some swelling may extend outside of the sting site; for example, if your child was stung on their wrist, the whole forearm could swell up.
Treatment for the bee sting
If you can, remove the stinger as soon as possible. Cleanse the area with gentle soap and water and apply an ice pack.
Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion eases any itching.
When a bee sting requires medical care
Feel free to call our office if your child complains of pain. We can help you determine if they need an antihistamine to ease discomfort.
Children with allergies to things like dust or pollen or who have asthma may benefit from preseason allergy testing to see if they’re allergic to bees. This can help you be proactive when summer and bee season hits. You can carry antihistamines with you outdoors to ease any possible reactions.
Bee stings and anaphylactic shock
Anaphylactic shock is a very rare reaction to a bee sting, particularly in children. Only 1% of all bee stings result in this severe reaction, characterized by severe itching, swelling of the throat, irregular heart beat, nausea, and vomiting.
Usually, anaphylactic shock happens to adults. This is because the allergy develops over time. A person’s first bee sting doesn’t usually result in a severe reaction – but the seriousness builds up over time. If your child has had prior bee stings that caused symptoms, Dr. Lubega may prescribe an EpiPen® to use in case of a severe allergic reaction.
If your child’s face swells or they develop hives following a bee sting, call our office right away. Wheezing or difficulty swallowing, a rapid pulse, or loss of consciousness require immediate emergency care — call 911 right away.
Avoiding bee stings
Protect your child from bee stings with the following steps:
- Skip the floral scented shampoos, lotions, or other fragrances
- Avoid brightly colored or flower-printed clothing
- Drink plain water outside; sugary drinks attract bees
- Wear long pants and shoes if you’re going to an area with lots of bees
Teach your child not to run from bees. Standing still keeps the bees calm, and they usually just fly away after a few moments.
If your child suffers a bee sting and you’re concerned with their reaction, feel free to call us at First Pediatric Care Center. Dr. Lubega is available to help with all your insect bite and sting concerns.