Posted by Claudia Grazioso on February 16, 2012
When my brother was a kid, he and some friends were waiting for the school bus. They saw what looked like a hive lying on the ground nearby and, being kids, decided that the very best thing they could do would be to poke it with a stick. The bees were not happy about that, and several kids including my brother got stung before piling onto the school bus. About thirty seconds into the bus ride, my brother’s face began to swell, his throat began to close and his breathing got labored. My brother was going into anaphylactic shock, which is a rare but very serious allergic reaction.
Thanks to a very fast-driving (and probably very freaked out) bus driver, my brother got medical attention in time and lived to tell the story. He was also armed from that day forward with an Epi-pen. He was okay, but it was a wake up call for our whole family.
Most kids will get stung by a bee or a wasp at some point, and most will be just fine. Still, even the average sting requires some tending to. If your child is stung by a bee, remove the whole stinger quickly. The longer the stinger is in, the more bee venom your child will be exposed to. After the stinger is out, wash the area to prevent infection, and apply ice to help with swelling. If your child is in a lot of discomfort, you could try over-the-counter painkillers, too. If your child has been stung multiple times (because, say, they poked a hive with a stick) and they vomit, have headaches, diarrhea or develop a fever, call your doctor.
Because of my brother’s allergy, swelling wasn’t what I was worried about when my daughter got stung by a bee. I was on the look out for the full-on anaphylactic reaction. It didn’t happen, thank goodness, but if you are worried about a more severe reaction, check your child for a rash that spreads over most of their body, swelling of the hands, feet, face or tongue, shortness of breath or a tightening in their chest and dizziness. If your child is allergic to bees, they will be given an Epi-pen to carry, which I can tell you from experience will make them feel like James Bond and will be a source of envy to their classmates and siblings alike. Make sure they know how to use it, and also inform teachers, coaches and any parents who might be hosting your child about his or her allergy.
Finally, to lessen your child’s risk of a bee sting, try to get them to keep their shoes on when walking in grass (good luck with that), avoid floral prints (if you have girls, good luck with that, too) and try not to let them run around with sweet-smelling food or drinks. You might also talk to them about the wisdom of poking a hive with a stick.