Are beestings dangerous for a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old?
Insect sting allergy occurs in 1 percent to 3 percent of the population and causes only about 50 sudden deaths in the United States each year. The rate of serious reactions is lower in children than adults. Unfortunately, insect repellents are not effective against stinging insects.
Bumblebees are one of the most common sources of stings in children. They stay close to the ground so that children often step or sit on them. Therefore, bare feet are risky. Besides having your children wear shoes when outdoors, you can take the following precautions:
- Keep food covered when eating outdoors.
- Avoid drinking from open cans; insects are attracted to sweet beverages and children and adults can unknowingly drink an insect.
- Keep your children from being mistaken for a flower. Do not use sweet-smelling cosmetics such as shampoos, lotions, or hair rinses, and avoid floral prints and bright-colored clothing. White is best.
If a bee stings a child, apply ice or cold water to reduce the pain. Then remove the stinger if it is left behind. You can pull it out with tweezers or your clean fingernails, or you can scrape it out with a credit card. Serious reactions most often occur within minutes, rarely in a few hours. If your child has trouble breathing, turns pale or blue, breaks out in a rash, or has swollen lips and eyes, call for emergency care. A delayed reaction with flu-like symptoms can occur days later. If that happens, let your health care provider know.
Many children will have a local reaction to a beesting. In 24 to 48 hours, the area around the sting, especially if it is in a soft area such as the back of the hand, top of the foot, or the face, will swell, sometimes dramatically, and turn red. It usually does not hurt but may itch a little. This is not an allergy. Antihistamines do not do anything except relieve itching, which will subside in another day or two.
Anybody who has had a serious reaction to an insect sting should have adrenaline immediately available. An Epi-pen, which contains a pre-measured dose that can be administered through clothing in a device that works like a ballpoint pen, should be kept at home, in the car, at school, daycare, and camp.