5 Safe Home Remedies To Treat Bee Stings On Kids

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Bee stings on kids are a common concern that can be mild or severe depending on several factors. When a bee stings, its venom-containing stinger pierces the skin and releases the venom into the bloodstream. The venom contains a protein that can cause swelling and itching near the affected area.

If a child is allergic to bee venom, they can develop a severe yet rare life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. Most bee stings in children can be managed at home with a few remedies. However, if your child is allergic to bee venom, consult a doctor if your child is stung by a bee.

Keep reading to learn the symptoms, treatment, and home remedies for a bee sting in children.

What Does A Bee Sting Look And Feel Like?

Appearance of bee stings on kids

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Although honeybees, wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets look different, all of them sting when they are upset. If your child is stung by any of the insects mentioned above, they would feel a painful sensation similar to that of an injection.

The sting site may feel warm and may itch. You will also notice a tiny red dot, and the surrounding area may become bumpy or swell based on the amount of venom injected.

Symptoms Of Bee Sting

The symptoms of a bee sting vary from child to child. In some, it would be limited to temporary pain and discomfort, whereas in others, it could lead to a severe allergic reaction.

Mild reaction

A bee’s sting generally causes a mild reaction that includes the following symptoms (1) (2).

In most cases, the reaction subsides within a few hours.

Moderate reaction

In some children, the allergic reaction to the bee’s venom might be slightly strong and show the following symptoms (1).

  • Swelling that is larger than 1cm in diameter
  • Redness that spreads around the sting site

A moderate reaction generally lasts for five to ten days. Seek prompt medical attention if the sting site is near the airways and the swelling causes breathing difficulty.

Severe allergic reaction

Some children may have a severe anaphylactic reaction when stung by a bee. If you spot any of the following symptoms in your child, call your healthcare provider immediately (1) (3).

  • Trouble breathing and swallowing within two hours of the bee sting
  • A feeling of tightness in the chest and throat
  • Red, itchy bumps on the skin (hives)
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • A weak pulse
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Infection

Multiple Bee Stings

Multiple bee stings are rare but could happen. If your child is surrounded by a swarm of bees, they may be stung by more than one bee. Sting bites between 30 and 50 have proven to be fatal in children (4).

If your child is stung by more than a dozen bees, the accumulation of the venom can cause a severe toxic reaction.

Risks And Complications Of Bee Sting In Children

Children who live close to beehives or those who often play in the woods are at a higher risk of getting stung by bees. If your child has only a mild reaction to the bee sting, it does not mean they are not at risk of developing anaphylaxis in the future. Repeated bee stings can lead to venom allergy as the child grows (5).

A mild to moderate reaction may not pose any severe complications, and the symptoms might subside in a week or two. However, if your child develops a severe allergic reaction, it can cause complications such as airway obstructions or cardiovascular issues.

How To Treat A Bee Sting In A Child?

If your child is stung by a bee, follow these tips to prevent the poison from spreading (3) (6) (7).

  1. Ask your child not to panic if they are stung by a bee. Cover your child’s mouth and nose and calmly take them away from the area.
  2. Examine your child’s body. If there are multiple stings, it is best to take your child to the emergency room.
  3. Remove the stinger as early as possible to prevent the additional venom from getting into your child’s skin.
  4. Use a credit card or your fingernail to scrape out the stinger from the area gently. Never use a sharp object or a tweezer to remove the stinger, as it could push more poison into the skin.
  5. Wash the area with soap and water, and apply ice cubes to relieve itching, swelling from venom, and pain.
  6. You may also use over-the-counter medications such as cortisone cream, an antihistamine cream for severe itching or swelling.

Treatment For Severe Allergic Reactions

If your child shows symptoms of a severe reaction, it is imperative to seek medical attention without any delay. Your doctor will remove the bee sting and immediately administer an adrenaline shot to prevent airway obstruction, hypotension, and shock. The second-line treatment usually includes the administration of H1 and H2-antihistamines and glucocorticoids (4).

When To Call The Doctor?

Call your healthcare provider if the symptoms do not subside within a few days or if your child develops symptoms of severe allergic reactions.

Home Remedies For Bee Stings

If your child shows a mild reaction to the bee sting, you may try some of the following home remedies. However, talk to your pediatrician before trying them, as most of these home remedies lack scientific backing (7) (8).

  1. Baking soda paste: Mix baking soda in water and make a thick paste. Apply it to the sting bite, cover it with a bandage, and leave it for 15 minutes. Repeat it if needed. This is known to relieve itching and swelling.
  2. Cider vinegar: Anecdotal evidence suggests that apple cider vinegar can help neutralize bee venom. Dilute apple cider vinegar. Soak a bandage in the vinegar and apply it to the sting site.
  3. Toothpaste: This is another traditional home remedy for bee stings. It may be because the alkaline nature of toothpaste might neutralize the acidic bee venom. Apply some toothpaste to the affected area and leave it for 15 minutes. Repeat if needed.
  4. Papaya pulp: The enzyme papain in papaya pulp is believed to break down the protein that causes the symptoms after a bee sting. Mix one part of papaya pulp in four parts of water and apply the mixture onto the sting site. Let it sit for 30 minutes, and then wipe it clean.
  5. Garlic: Some people believe that the application of garlic paste on the sting site can help relieve the pain and itching. Although there is little scientific evidence to prove its effectiveness, you may try it if your child is comfortable.

Prevention Of Bee Stings

Take the following measures to prevent bee stings in children.

  • Make sure you inspect your garden and backyard for beehives or wasp nests. If you spot one, make sure you keep your children away from it or bring in professionals to handle it.
  • Always dress your children in long sleeves and full pants when going into the woods.
  • Ensure your children do not wear bright-colored clothes or sweet-smelling perfumes while going out, as these may attract bees.
  • Always keep the windows rolled up while driving.
  • Instruct your child to cover their food while eating outdoors.
  • Do not let your child leave their soda cans unattended once open.
  • Clear all garbage cans and do not let fruit or flowers rot as they may attract bees.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should I give my child Benadryl for a bee sting?

Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, can help relieve itching and swelling caused due to allergic reactions. Speak to your doctor to know if you should give Benadryl for your child or not. Follow the dosage instructions as prescribed to ensure the medicine is used correctly (6) (9).

2. How long does a bee sting stay swollen?

According to experts, swelling from a bee sting can increase 48 hours after the sting. It may stay for up to seven days, while redness may stay for about three days (10).

Bee stings on kids usually have a mild reaction unless their body initiates an allergenic reaction against the bee venom. Know that children who play or live near forest areas or have beehives near their homes are at a higher risk of getting stung by a bee. Therefore, ensure that your child is fully covered when they go outdoors. In case of a bee sting, ensure that you keep your child calm and take out the stinger carefully. If you notice an allergy to multiple bee stings, take them to the doctor.

Key Pointers

  • Bee sting on kids causes sharp pain and burning sensation in the affected skin area.
  • Children allergic to bee venom may show severe reactions such as trouble breathing, chest tightness, low blood pressure, or loss of consciousness.
  • Visit the emergency room if a child is stung by many bees. Remove the stinger as soon as possible.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Pamela W Ewan; Venom allergy; BMJ (1998).
2. Bee sting; Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
3. Bee poison; Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
4. Manuela B. Pucca et al.; Bee Updated: Current Knowledge on Bee Venom and Bee Envenoming Therapy; Frontiers in Immunology (2019).
5. Bee Stings and Venom Allergies; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
6. Bee Sting; St. Louis Children’s Hospital
7. Bee Stings: Is It an Allergic Reaction?; National Capital Poison Center
8. Mahmoud Abdu Al-Samie Mohamed Ali; Studies on Bee Venom and Its Medical Uses; International Journal of Advancements in Research & Technology (2012).
9. Insect Sting Allergy; Kids Health From Nemours
10. Bee or Yellow Jacket Sting; Seattle Children’s

 

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Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a certified lactation counsellor from iNational Health Care Academy, Singapore and a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. She did her graduation in Dentistry from KM Shah Dental College. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate... more

Dr. Dur Afshar Agha

(MS)
Dr. Dur Afshar Agha is a consultant pediatrician with decades of experience in various medical facilities both in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. She has headed the Department of Preventive Pediatrics at the prestigious, Children’s Hospital and Institute of Child Health in Pakistan and is a life member of the Pakistan Paediatric Association. She has also completed her Post Graduate Program... more

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