First aid: Bee Stings

What is it?

The sting of a wasp is different from the typical honey bee sting in that the latter leaves the stinger attached with the venom sac within the victim.

What are the symptoms?

Generally there is immediate pain and swelling. There are some children who can have severe allergic reactions characterized by difficulty breathing, hives, itching, and swelling over the body. The redness and swelling can often cover a large area of skin that can last for up to 48 hours. These large reactions do not necessarily mean it is an allergic reaction.

What can/should be done at home

  • Remove the stinger as soon as possible by scraping it horizontally. This can easily be done with a credit card. Do not pull it out with the fingers, as this will squeeze the venom out of the sac and into the body.
  • Apply cool compresses on the sting.
  • Use an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or topical hydrocortisone ointment for the itching, if your doctor agrees.
  • Use a paste of baking soda and water over the sting to help decrease itching.

When to get immediate attention

  • If there is any trouble breathing
  • If your child becomes light-headed or faints
  • If hives (red splotches) develop around the sting or in other areas of the body
  • If your child develops swelling about the lips, eyes, tongue, or penis
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