Kids health

Ask Dr. Dina: What should I do the first time my child gets a bee sting?

It can be scary waiting to see how your child will react to a bee sting. Here's what to watch for when you don't know if they're allergic.

What should I do the first time my child is stung by a bee? How will I know if she’s allergic, and should I take her to the ER just in case?

Bees and wasps are rampant in summer, and stings are sometimes inevitable. The first indication that your child has been stung will likely be a pain-induced shriek. You’ll also notice a red welt on the skin. For some kids, a sting feels itchy; others will develop hives. Most often, a sting is painful but harmless. If the stinger is left behind, gently scrape it away with a flat surface, such as a credit card. (Don’t remove it with tweezers, as this may deposit more venom.) Clean the area with soap and water, and apply ice intermittently for 10 to 15 minutes to control the pain and swelling. Ibuprofen can also help.

Other symptoms, like a diffuse rash, swelling to the face, difficulty breathing, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain are signs of an allergic reaction that could lead to anaphylaxis. It is very uncommon to experience anaphylaxis on the first sting, though—kids who are allergic will usually have a local reaction, like a rash, the first time.

Venom allergy tends to run in families, so 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.

Read more:
The best ways to protect your kids from bug bites this summer
How to relieve an itchy bug bite
An age by age guide to kids’ phobias

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