The immediate treatment for beestings:

  • scrape the stinger out sideways with a knife blade or similar object - don't pull with tweezers and inject more venom
  • apply ice to the sting to give pain relief and slow down venom absorption
  • give a children's pain reliever1
  • give some diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) Get a dose from your doctor or allergist - I use 1 teaspoon per 25-30 pounds of body weight (about double the usual cold/allergy dose)

Expect some reaction (swelling or itching) the next day at the sting site and around it. Apply some 1% hydrocortisone cream 3-4 times a day if this happens. Tell your doctor if your child ever experiences shortness of breath, wheezing, or hives after a beesting.

The best policy is of course to avoid beestings if at all possible. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends

  • avoid brightly colored clothing
  • avoid sandals, walking barefoot in grass - especially around white clover, a favorite bee food
  • don't drink from an open beverage can that has been sitting unattended - stinging insects can crawl inside
  • keep food covered at all times at picnics
  • cover outside garbage tightly closed
  • avoid sweet-smelling perfumes
  • keep window/door screens tight
  • drive with the car windows up
  • keep medication handy at all times

1I have been informed recently of possible re-activation of bee-sting allergy (with potentially severe symptoms) by ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (as well as other medications not used in childhood). It might be wise to stick with acetaminophen for pain relief.

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