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Post Category: First Aid

A WonderBaba guide to wasp and bee stings!

wasp and bee sting

Summer and early Autumn are the most common times for wasps and bees to sting.  Bee and wasps stings are common in children as they are more likely to try to touch or catch them as they see them and think cute and funny!  Bee movie has a lot to answer for 😉 When a wasp stings it does not leave its stinger behind – but it does leave behind a small dose of its venom and can sting a number of times. Wasps are more aggressive than bees. When a bee stings its stinger breaks off and is left in the skin – it also releases a larger amount of venom than a wasp sting.  Bees only sting when they feel threatened. Venom is a protein containing substance which can trigger an immune response and cause pain and swelling.

Most bee and wasp stings are mild and will just result in an itchy red mark on the skin which can remain painful for 2-3 days.  There is unfortunately though a small minority of children (less than 0.5%) who will be allergic to the venom and can suffer a severe allergic reaction as a result.  This reaction, whilst very rare, can develop into full anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) and can even be fatal.

I’ve written this blog so that Mums, Dads and caregivers know what to look out for when their child gets a sting, how to treat it and even how to avoid them. Its worth noting that wasps and bees carry different venom and so just because a child is allergic to one does not mean they are allergic to both.

Action needed to treat a bee or wasp sting:

  • If it is a bee sting remove the stinger as soon as possible – this will minimise the impact of the venom as there will be less time for it to be realease from the stinger.  To remove the sting pull it out with you fingernails or scrape it away by pressing a flat item such as a credit card over the skin and scraping it out. The faster you do this the less impact the sting will have!  If it was a wasp sting there will be no stinger to be removed.
  • Gently wash the area with soapy water.
  • Use an icepack or cold compress to reduce inflammation, relieve pain and to reduce the effects of the sting.
  • Treat pain with paracetamol (calpol, paralink etc) or ibuprofen (nurofen) as appropriate depending on the age and other conditions of your child.
  • An antihistamine cream such as Anthisan may be applied to relieve itch, and reduce redness, pain and inflammation.
  • If the itch is very bad Zirtek solution (an antihistmaine oral solution) may be given if your child is over two years of age.
  • Try to minimise your child itching the area which was stung – do this my covering it with a dressing or clothing where necessary.

Go straight to the doctor if:

  • If the bee sting is in your childs mouth as swelling can occur which could obstruct the airways.
  • If your child shows signs of a severe allergic reaction such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, swelling of the lips, tongue or face.
  • If your child becomes very flushed or becomes very pale.
  • If your child is dizzy, faints, or looses consciousness.
  • If your child is suffering from nausea or vomiting.
  • If the rash is covering a very large area or there is excessive swelling which lasts longer than three days.

Remember – Treatment is really quick, effective and simple so early intervention is so important!

Top tips to avoid stings :

  • Firstly its important to know that insect repellents do not work against insects which sting!
  • Don’t let your child eat sweets when they are outside playing.
  • Teach your child not to swat at bees and flies and explain to them that some may sting when they feel frightened or scared.  Tell them not to be alarmed but just to walk away slowly so as not to frighten the bee or wasp.
  • If there are a lot of bees or wasps around then dress your child is long clothing such as leggings, long sleeves, shoes and hats.  Don’t let your child walk around barefoot as they are likely to stand on a wasp or bee which will sting in response.
  • Be careful with drinking cups – try to only use ones with lids outside so that wasps or bees do not enter and sting your child’s mouth.
  • If your child is allergic to wasp or bee stings always carry an epipen or similar if prescribed.

I hope you have found this information helpful and don’t forget I’m available to answer any of your questions by private message on the WonderBaba facebook page ( and also in person at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 (012600262)

Author: WonderBaba Blog

My name is Sheena Mitchell and I'm a pharmacist with my own business Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6. From working in the pharmacy I've realised that there are a lot of first time and experienced moms who might benefit from hints and tips from a pharmacist who can balance healthcare advice with real hands on experience from my important work as a mother of two! I hope to bring you regular advice and information and answer questions that you have! Being a mother and pharmacist are my two favorite things and I'm delighted to have this way of bringing my two worlds together! All questions and queries are gratefully received but otherwise sit back, relax, and let the solutions come to you!