How to Treat Bee Stings



Honeybees almost always leave the stinger (with attached venom sac) in the skin. This should be removed as quickly as possible by scraping the skin at the stinger base with a credit card or other flat object. Do not grasp the venom sac with fingers or tweezers because this will inject the venom remaining in the sac into the skin.

Bee Sting Symptoms

  • pain, redness, and swelling at the sting site
  • itching, sometimes intense, 12 to 24 hours later

Bee Sting Treatment

  • avoid scratching to reduce risk of infection
  • apply ice to affected area
  • elevate affected area

Symptoms of Hypersensitivity Reaction to Bee Stings

  • significant swelling, usually beginning one or two days after the sting and spreading past one or more neighboring joints
  • mild itchiness
  • usually very mild pain, or no pain at all

Treatment of Hypersensitivity Reaction to Bee Stings

  • Take antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl and others) to relieve itching and swelling.
  • For more severe local reactions, contact your child’s physician. Sometimes oral steroids (prednisone) are prescribed.
  • Antibiotics are rarely necessary.

Symptoms of Multiple Stings

  • a toxic reaction may occur when a person is stung multiple times, often 10 or more.
  • moderate swelling
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • light-headedness

Treatment of Multiple Stings

Go to an emergency facility immediately or call 911. Severe symptoms can develop quickly, and the emergency room is better equipped to treat a serious reaction to bee or wasp venom.



Symptoms of Life-Threatening or Anaphylactic Reactions

This reaction affects the entire body and can result from one or multiple stings. Initial symptoms occur shortly after the sting.

Treatment of Life-Threatening or Anaphylactic Reactions

If child has had a severe reaction to an insect sting in the past, talk to his doctor about emergency treatment kits containing an injection of epinephrine (for example Ana-Kit) that can partially or completely reverse a similar reaction in the future. This should be available at home, in the car, and reaction, especially if he may need an emergency injection of epinephrine. You might also want to see an allergist about giving your child immunotherapy injections to prevent this potentially life-threatening problem in the future. Even after completing an allergy-shot series, emergency kits containing epinephrine should still be available.