Ouch! My child has been stung.
As we enter the warmer months the bees, wasps and ants have a greater presence in our backyards and parks. If your child suddenly comes to you from outside, screaming in pain it is always a good idea to give them a quick once-over to check for any sign that they have been stung by an insect.
Following a sting the surrounding skin will commonly become swollen and red in colour, it will usually be painful and sometimes itchy. A bee will also leave behind a small stinger on the surface of the skin whereas ants and wasps rarely do this.
In all cases of bee, wasp and ant stings it is recommended to wash the affected area with soap and water and then apply an ice pack for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, repeating its application every two hours thereafter. A firm compression bandage may also assist in reducing the swelling and therefore the pain if the sting was on an arm or leg. If your child is old enough to have a child anti-histamine medication then this may also be of benefit.
An insect sting becomes a first aid emergency if the child has been stung more than 5 times during a single event or if the child shows signs of an allergic reaction that involve areas of the body away from the sting site. Signs that indicate a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) include vomiting, shortness of breath, persistent dizziness, etc and an ambulance must be requested. If this occurs lay the child and elevate their legs (if they are short of breath allow them to sit up), keep them still and apply a pressure immobilisation bandage. If the child has been previously diagnosed with anaphylaxis then they can have their adrenaline auto-injecting device (eg. EpiPen) administered.
For our children’s sake the best alternative is to prevent them from getting stung from such insects. Strategies include dressing your children in lighter clothing when outdoors, avoid wearing perfumes, stop them drinking from open cans or bottles (use a straw instead) and for them not disturb insect nests. Unfortunately, most children will get stung by an insect at some stage and so it is reassuring to know how to manage this first aid situation.
Would you recommend this article? Have you or your child ever been stung before? What did you do?
Author: Amanda Thorton
Amanda currently practises as an Ambulance Paramedic (Clinical Instructor), a role in which she is continually involved in a variety of child related First Aid emergencies. Amanda is the Managing Director of Child Revive First Aid, an amazing service providing Child First Aid training courses for parents, businesses, schools and groups. For further information attend a Child Revive First Aid course near you – go to childrevive.com.au for details.
Additional note from the Sydney Childrens Hospital website:
A bee sting can cause pain and/or swelling. The swelling may be worse the next day. Some people may have an allergic reaction to the sting, and may have a rash, vomiting, may collapse or have difficulty in breathing. If this happens, urgent medical attention is needed.
Remove the sting.
Apply ice to reduce the swelling and to ease the pain (do not apply ice to the eye area).
Seek medical attention straight away if an allergic reaction occurs.
If a person has been stung more than five times they should be taken to hospital.