Triage Line: Keep Us In Mind for Bee Stings

Along with spring time, come the bees. Imagine… It’s a beautiful, warm and sunny day. Your children are laughing and playing outside. All of a sudden you hear a scream! Someone has stepped on a bee and was stung. You are listening to your child crying in pain while trying to figure out what to do to help. As a nurse that has taken her share of triage calls about bees, I can give you some tips to help along the way.

First, if your child has a known bee allergy, please follow the advice your provider has given you for when your child has been stung. If your child has no known bee allergy, then priority one is to calm the situation. Tell them they have been stung by a bee. Give your child a big hug to assure everything is going to be ok, because you are going to help.

Second, it is useful to count the number of stings your child received. If there are more than 5, please call our office for advice.

Third, look for the stinger at the site. If it is still attached, remove it using a fingernail or credit card edge. You may apply a paste made by adding a small amount of water to either meat tenderizer or baking soda. If neither of these is handy, you can try an aluminum-based deodorant. Either way, apply and leave for 20 minutes. As a backup, a 10 minute cold compress of ice can also be helpful.

You may give Tylenol or Motrin if the sting continues to hurt. If the sting becomes itchy, you may give an antihistamine oral dose or you may apply hydrocortisone cream to the affected site. Please call the triage line for dosing amounts if dosing instructions are not available. Please note that the pain can last for 1-2 hours. Itching usually follows. You will normally see redness and swelling at the site that may increase for up to 24 hours after the sting. Redness may last for up to 3 days and swelling for up to 7 days.

Call the office if the sting looks infected. Infection symptoms include streaking, swelling and/or redness that increases or doesn’t start until 24-48 hours after the sting. The first 24 hours is due to venom.

Anaphylactic (allergic) reactions will always occur within 2 hour period of the sting. If you see any of these symptoms, call 911. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, cough, tightness in throat or chest, difficulty swallowing, speech or thought confused and fainting or too weak to stand. Also, hives may come before an anaphylactic reaction. If you see hives with no breathing issues, please call the triage line for advice.

At Growing Child Pediatrics, our triage nurses are always here for you. Don’t forget, if you have any questions about bee stings to vaccines to sun screen, please keep our Triage Line in Mind.

Tammy Seagroves, RN Clinical Director
Resource -Barton Schmitt- Pediatric Telephone Protocols: Office Version