Bee stings are just one of the annoyances of outdoor fun.  Children tend to be frightened of bees and for good reason.  No one likes to be stung.  Bee stings can cause a large range of reactions as well as vary in severity.  Usually bee stings are uneventful, after the initial pain and sting the symptoms go away and there is not much left in the aftermath. 

There is a small percentage of people, 5%, that are allergic to bee stings.  Bee stings tend to cause worse reactions in adults than in children, and rarely does a bee sting immediately bring on anaphylaxis right away. 


Bee Sting Symptoms


Mild symptoms are what most people suffer from when they encounter a bee sting.  There is pain at the sting sight, a red welt, and some slight swelling.  All of these symptoms go away within a few hours. 


Moderate symptoms happen with all the same symptoms as the mild symptoms. In addition with extreme redness, and swelling that increases over a few days.  These symptoms usually resolve within 5 to 10 days after the initial sting.  These symptoms rarely need to be seen by a medical provider. 


Severe allergic reactions can be dangerous and life threatening.  It is important to know if you or your child is allergic to bee stings so you can respond in the correct manner.  The good news is if you or your child have never been stung, then you probably won’t have an extreme allergic reaction the first time.  You will usually suffer from a moderate to severe reaction the first time.  But know that the next time your symptoms could be significantly more serious. 

Severe allergic reaction symptoms are hives, itchy skin, difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and tongue, weak rapid pulse, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, and loss of consciousness. 

If you suffer from any of these you will want to speak with your healthcare provider.  Having an epinephrine auto injector on you at all times may be required if you have symptoms like these. Having a skin or blood allergy test done can also diagnose any allergies to bee stings you or your child may have.  


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Complications:  Multiple Bee Stings

If one bee sting isn’t bad enough, sometimes you may encounter multiple bee stings.  This can be if the bees are a type that like to swarm or if you have bothered a nest that has released the bees on attack.  The venom from bee stings carry a protein that affects the body’s immune system and skin cells.  This venom can buildup in your system with each sting causing an allergic reaction or a toxic reaction. 

Symptoms can be as severe as an allergic reaction to a bee sting.  Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, vertigo, convulsions, fever, dizziness, elevated heart rate, and low blood pressure. 

Usually an adult needs to be stung more than 12 times to see severe symptoms like this, but a child who suffers from any multiple bee stings should be seen by a doctor. 


Bee Sting Treatment

For a mild bee sting the treatment is pretty easy.  Make sure the stinger is removed from the sting sight.  Wash with soap and water to disinfect the area.  Afterwards you may apply a cold compress to help with pain and swelling. 

For moderate symptoms remove the stinger.  Wash with soap and water to disinfect.  Apply a cold compress.  Take an over the counter pain reliever.  If you are suffering from itching, take an over the counter antihistamine.  Depending on where the bee sting site is, elevate it if possible, if it is an arm or leg for example.  Avoid scratching the area which may cause it to stay swollen for longer.  

Allergic reactions should be taken to the emergency room immediately.  There they will give you treatment based on your symptoms.  Epinephrine to help reduce your body’s allergic reaction.  Oxygen and a beta agonist to help relieve breathing symptoms.  IV antihistamines to open up your airways. 



There is no way to completely prevent yourself from getting a bee sting.  Bees are not usually attackers, they normally sting out of self defense if they feel threatened.  So stay calm if you see a bee, don’t swat at it. 

Be careful of drinking sweet beverages outside, they will attract the bees.  Keep food covered.  Avoid bright colored clothes that will attract bees.  Where closed toed shoes.  Keep clothes loose so bees can’t get trapped in them.  If you have any bee nests around your house, have a professional come and clear it away.  If you are being chased by bees do not jump in water.  They will wait for you to come out and will continue to sting you.  Go indoors if they start to swarm you where they can’t get you.  Don’t try to fight the bees that are swarming you either.  


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