To a kid, bees can be scary. But, as a parent, you should know that only 3% of bee stings result in allergic reactions. If your child is stung by a bee, it’s important to stay calm and take the necessary measures to guarantee their well-being and comfort.
Here are the steps that Dr. Margaret Lubega at First Pediatric Care Center in Gastonia, North Carolina, recommends you take when your child experiences a bee sting.
About bee stings
Bees don’t target children. Though they happen often, especially during outdoor activities or when children are playing in gardens or parks, bees only sting when they feel threatened.
The sting can be painful due to the bee's venom. Most bee stings are harmless and only cause mild discomfort, but in rare cases, children may experience allergic reactions. It's essential to know the difference between a normal localized response and an allergic reaction so you can take the appropriate action.
What to do right after a sting
First and foremost, you as the parent must stay calm. Your child will look to you for guidance and reassurance, so remain composed.
Bees leave a stinger behind in the skin after they sting. Remove the stinger as soon as possible to minimize how much venom your child receives. Gently scrape it off with a credit card or your fingernail, avoiding using tweezers or pinching, as this can release more venom.
Clean the area with mild soap and water to reduce the risk of infection. Pat it dry with a clean cloth.
You can reduce swelling and alleviate pain by applying a cold compress to the sting area for about 20 minutes. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease any discomfort, too. Follow the appropriate dosing for your child’s age and weight.
Watching for an allergic reaction
While the vast majority of bee stings cause only localized pain and swelling, some children may have an allergic reaction.
Watch for the following signs of a severe reaction:
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the face, lips, or throat
- Hives or a rash that spreads beyond the sting site
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or fainting
If you notice any of these symptoms, call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room. Allergic reactions can be life-threatening and require prompt intervention.
Protecting your child from bee stings
While it may be impossible to completely avoid bees, there are steps you can take to discourage future bee sting occurrences:
- Teach your child not to provoke or swat at bees
- Avoid using scented lotions, perfumes, or brightly colored clothing, which can attract bees
- When eating outdoors, keep food and drinks covered to prevent attracting bees
Inspect your own yard to look for beehives or wasp nests and have any that you find removed by a professional.
Remember, most bee stings are minor and can be easily managed at home. If you fear your child has a bee sting allergy, however, get appropriate care right away.
If you ever have concerns about your child's health or suspect an allergic reaction, call First Pediatric Care Center or use this website to schedule an appointment. Dr. Lubega specializes in insect bites as well as other general pediatric concerns.