What should I do if your baby has a bee sting? – This is something serious that needs attention right away. Read to learn, treat and prevent bee sting.
Summer brings beautiful, warm weather and flowering greenery…and bees and wasps. Your baby could pick one up, crawl over it or sit on it.
“We were enjoying an explore in my friend’s backyard. Emmy reached out toward a bright yellow flower. I didn’t notice the bee. Ms. Curiosity did. She probably thought it was an exciting new toy! I bet she intended to plop it right into her mouth! Instead she started howling and I started panicking,” Meg shares.
Do you need to panic? Probably not. Most babies don’t have a dangerous reaction to stings on a first or second sting. If they do, you’ll see specific symptoms right away.
Bee sting basics
Bees, hornets or wasps cause most stings. Your baby is most likely to have a local reaction. The skin responds to the venom injected by the sting. This can be painful, but isn’t serious.
Your baby may experience burning, swelling or redness around the sting site. The symptoms typically improve within a few hours. About 10 percent of children develop a larger local reaction that can take days to go away.
Rarely, a baby will have a reaction that involves the whole body. This reaction can be life-threatening and requires quick emergency treatment.
When to call the doctor
Call 911 or your country’s emergency response number immediately if your baby has a severe allergic reaction.
The symptoms may include any of these:
- Skin: Hives
- Lungs: Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Circulation: Becomes weak or unresponsive
- Gastrointestinal: Abdominal cramps, vomiting or diarrhea
- Nose and mouth: Swelling of the lips or tongue or changes in your baby’s voice or cry
If your doctor has prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector, use it now.
Even if your baby hasn’t had a general reaction to the sting, you may still need to be seen.
Call the doctor if:
- Your baby has multiple stings
- The stings are inside the mouth or nose
- If your baby has a large local reaction (3 inches or larger in diameter) that persists for days
Treating the sting
When your baby’s been stung, remove the stinger. You’ll know the stinger is present if you see a little black dot at the site. The honey bee venom sack, which remains in the skin after a sting, can take two to three minutes to release all of its venom. Getting it out quickly can reduce the severity of the sting.
Many doctors recommend using a hard object like a credit card or blunt knife to swipe over the area and remove the stinger. They say that pulling the stinger out with your fingers or tweezers because this will squeeze out more venom.
Once the stinger is out, you can reduce the swelling and easy your baby’s pain. Try one of these remedies:
✔ Apply a cool cloth or ice pack to the sting
✔ Make a paste of baking soda and water and dab onto a sting site
✔ Try vinegar on a wasp sting
✔ Discourage scratching and rubbing the sting site
✔ For a herbal treatment, apply plantain leaf or green clay
✔ Give ibuprofen if your baby is older than 6 months or acetaminophen to help with pain
Preventing bee stings
You can lower the odds that your child will have a run in with a bee or wasp by:
- Avoiding brightly colored and flower print clothing
- Opt out of fragrances or cosmetics with floral scents
- Be careful with food and sweet drinks such as soda
- Don’t panic or run; standing still keeps the bees calm
- Dress your child in long pants and shoes that cover the whole foot if you’ll be in an area with bees
Has your baby been stung? What treatment helped your little one?