There’s a moment of panic that all parents experience when your child gives out a sudden wail of pain. Most parents can tell the difference between a cry that is serious and one that is not serious and being stung is one that is serious. Being stung by even the smallest bee hurts! For one panic stricken second when you realize what has happened any parent might freeze up. Don’t worry! Here are a few things to consider when you realize that your child has been stung by a bee.
Identify the bee if possible
Knowing what type of bee that stung your child will help you to gauge what to do next. The sting from a honeybee will be less severe than the sting from a wasp, for instance. It will be easier to remain calm if you know what exactly to expect in the next few minutes to hours to days. If you can see the stinger in the wound then carefully remove it. You can use the flat side of a hard object like a credit card or a butter knife (blunt side only!) to try and remove it gently. Do not try to remove the stinger if it does not come out easily. Removing the stinger can reduce the severity of the reaction to the sting.
Has your child been stung before?
The unknown is always scarier than something familiar. If your child has been stung before then you have a pretty good understanding of what to expect. Every person responds a little differently to bee stings than others. If your child had a mild reaction the last time they were stung it is likely that they will have a mild reaction this time as well. You will still need to keep an eye on them to ensure that nothing serious happens but you can probably relax. A serious allergy to a bee sting will almost certainly have happened the first time if it is going to happen at all.
Bee sting allergies can be very dangerous
Especially if your child has never been stung before it is important to evaluate their immediate reaction. If your child has known allergies to other things in nature such as pollen, ragweed, and bites from other types of bugs like mosquitos then they are more likely to have a more severe response to a bee sting. The most dangerous allergic response to a bee sting will be anaphylaxis (the inability to breathe due to the air passages swelling) but this reaction will happen immediately after the sting. Seek emergency medical help in the event of a severe allergic reaction. Most children with bee sting allergies will not have a severe response and instead only swelling and redness at the sight of the string that could last a few hours to a day or two. In response to a mild allergy, a dose of an antihistamine like diphenhydramine will help alleviate symptoms.
Mild reactions can be treated at home
For a mild reaction to a sting it is possible to treat at home. Before anything else ensure that the area is thoroughly washed with tepid or cool water and a mild soap. Warm or hot water may cause pain or irritation to the area. Some localized swelling or tenderness is normal and can be treated with cool water or ice packs. To reduce redness and swelling, a dose of diphenhydramine (Benedryl) can help. If the sting is painful then an age appropriate dose of ibuprofen might help. Application of a topical anti-itch cream like hydrocortisone will deal with any itchiness.
Monitor the area of the string for the next few days
Most people have symptoms that last no more than 24 hours. There may be a small mark where the stinger penetrated the skin. However, it is important to keep an eye on the sting for the next few days. You should continue to treat any swelling or redness for the first two days. If the symptoms persist for more than 48 hours then seek medical help from a clinic or your pediatrician. An infection can develop at the site of the sting that will need medical attention. Seek emergency medical care if your child develops a fever, rash, or red lines radiating from the site of the sting at any time due to severe health risks.