image of two bees sitting on purple flowers
Camping First Aid and Safety

How to Treat Bee Stings in Kids Correctly

image of two bees sitting on purple flowers

Have you ever made it through an entire summer without a child getting stung by a bee? We haven’t. Treating bee stings in kids is an essential skill for parents to learn.

If your child has ever been stung by a bee or wasp (or some other stinging, flying insect), you know how bad it just sucks. Bee stings in kids take all the enjoyment out of having fun outside. And if the whining and crying over the current sting isn’t enough to drive you bananas, the overwhelming fear of bees for the next few weeks will push you close to the edge.

There’s a First Aid Essentials cheat sheet in the toolkit grab yours today!

Bee stings are always painful- I mean, I’m an adult, and they still make me shed a tear. I can only imagine how my one year old feels about them. But they can also be deadly if a child is allergic to bee or wasp venom. If the child that gets stung has had any allergic reactions to bee stings in the past, they have a higher chance of showing signs of possible anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. This is why treating bee stings in kids requires diligence and a little knowledge.

Treating Bee Stings in Kids

1. Take Out the Stinger

You want to remove the stinger as fast as you can. The longer the bee’s stinger stays in, the more venom it can release, and the more painful it will be for your child.

Get the stinger out fast. It’s OK to use your fingers or brush it away. Just get it off your kid as fast as you can. The longer the stinger stays in, the worse the reaction.

The old school thought was to scrape stingers away from the skin using a credit card, because pinching the stinger could push extra venom into the kid. This is a huge myth. How fast you get the stinger out is more important than how you get it out. It’s more important to get the stinger out quickly.

Honey bees leave a stinger behind. Wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets do not leave a stinger. If you don’t see a stinger, there’s a chance it was never there. So don’t stress if you can’t find one.

2. Treat the Local Reactions

Treating bee stings in kids almost always means you’ll end up treating the reactions to the venom that happen close to the sting: redness, swelling, itching, and pain are all common at the site of the bee sting.

  • Use an ice pack to reduce swelling
  • Use an antihistamine like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to reduce swelling and itching.
  • Try ibuprofen or Tylenol (acetaminophen) for pain, if needed.

Always chat with a pharmacist or your pediatrician before giving a young child medication, and be sure to follow the instructions on the box!

Be prepared! The pain will usually go away pretty quickly, but swelling and itching may last for more than a day.

Bee stings happen often, so treating bee stings in kids is an essential skill for parents. I'm sharing my best tips and tricks for dealing with stings.

3. Recognize an Emergency

Observe your child for signs of an anaphylactic reaction. Even if your child has been stung before and didn’t have an allergic reaction, they can still develop an allergy. This is why diligence is necessary when treating bee stings in kids!

Signs and symptoms of severe allergy are:

  • itching in places other than the sting site
  • redness other than at the site
  • hives (which can develop all over the body)
  • shortness of breath

If there is any concern that your child may be having an anaphylactic reaction, call 911 immediately. Antihistamines, like diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can slow an anaphylactic reaction, but will not reverse it.

If your child is supposed to have an EpiPen and does not have it, call 911 immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to appear! If you have the EpiPen, use it. You still need to call 911 as EpiPens aren’t long-term treatment and the child may need additional help.

There’s a First Aid Essentials cheat sheet in the toolkit grab yours today!

Multiple Stings

If your kiddo was the unlucky recipient of a TON of stings at the same time (10 or more), go to the emergency room. The local reactions and amount of bee venom will be tough on a little person, and they may require prescription medication.

Fun Fact!

One of our favorite things to do in the summertime is to go to our local farmers market. There’s a fresh cut flower farm that always has a stand; their flowers are just gorgeous, and they sell honey too. I was chatting with the farmer about her flowers and bees, and we eventually got on the topic of bee stings in kids. She mentioned that bees release a unique smell when they’re in danger (stinging someone means they’re in danger). This smell attracts other bees. Her whole point was if a kid gets stung, leave the area. You don’t want to be around when the reinforcements get there.

What do you think? Ready to handle bee stings in kids? Let me know in the comments!

Enjoy this post? You might like these too:

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Family Emergency Binder

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Until Next time! Chrissie

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