What To Do If Your Child Gets Stung By A Bee

by Emily Westbrooks

I have a latent fear of my daughter getting stung by a bee. I was stung many times in my childhood, including once on the behind an hour before my piano recital when I was 10, so I'm well aware that bee stings are a natural part of life. However, if your kid has never been stung before — or if she has a tendency to react to bug bites or have allergic reactions — you'll want to know what to do if your child gets stung by a bee, because it can be terrifying.

Typically, you can treat a bee sting by removing the stinger, washing the area, and applying an ice pack. Most bee stings are harmless and kids will get over the shock and distress in a short period of time. However, there are symptoms you should watch out for to ensure your child isn't allergic to bee stings and might need a trip to the emergency room.

Bees often leave behind their stinger when they sting. You'll want to get that out of there to speed up the healing process. You shouldn't try to remove the stinger (otherwise known as the venom sac) with tweezers or your fingers as you run the risk of pushing it deeper into the skin, cautioned Kids First Aid. Instead, use a credit card or business card and run it over the sting to remove the stinger. Then wash the area and apply an ice pack. "If, after a short while, the swelling has become worse or your child is still in pain, then it will be necessary to call the doctor or visit the emergency ward at your local hospital."

Four out of every 1,000 kids experience a severe reaction to bee stings, according to Seattle Children's Hospital, "The main symptoms are hives with trouble breathing and swallowing. It starts within 2 hours of the sting." That's not the only sign of trouble after a bee sting, though.

Other symptoms, like a "rash over many parts of his body, shortness of breath, swollen tongue, hands, or face, weakness, or unconsciousness," you'll want to call 911 immediately for medical help because these can be signs that your child is going into anaphylactic shock, reported Baby Center. Anaphylaxis, of course, is the acute allergic reaction that can lead to anaphylactic shock and potentially death in children with severe enough allergies.

However, Pediatrician Dr. Dina Kulik explained in Today's Parent, "It is very uncommon to experience anaphylaxis on the first sting." Instead, she explained, "kids who are allergic will usually have a local reaction, like a rash, the first time." But if your child develops a reaction other than a little red welt that goes away over a short period of time, you'll want to check in with your doctor about your child's potential for a bee sting allergy.

If there are other people in your family who have bee allergies, that's another cause for concern. Dr. Kulik explained that allergies caused by venom typically run in families. She suggested, "If you or a close family member is allergic, keep an EpiPen nearby. If your child experiences even two allergy symptoms, call 911. Epinephrine may be required to prevent serious illness and death."

Likewise, Kids Health warned that you don't want to wait and see how a sting in the mouth area plays out and you should seek treatment immediately, because of what could happen if your child is allergic. "A sting anywhere in the mouth needs immediate medical attention because this can quickly cause severe swelling that may block airways," they said.

If your child does get stung by a bee, make sure you pay close attention to the location of the sting and keep a watchful eye on how your child reacts to it. And if you're not familiar or comfortable with removing the stinger, your child is stung in the mouth, or you see that their reaction is more than just a welt or rash, consult a medical professional.

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