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.
Basic treatment:
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.

  • Always good to refresh on these things especially this time of year when we’re out and about so much.


  • Some great advice there. My son was stung at a party once.


  • Thanks for the article,you never know when you be stung!


  • Great article, thank you for the tips.


  • I have recently read applying a paste of bicarb and water applied straight away to a bee sting reduces the pain and inflammation


  • A really interesting article! Thank for this read!


  • I am so paranoid they would be allergic. Good to know what to do if they were to get in trpunked.


  • Very useful information thank you


  • Such useful information. I’d also recommend either any of these articles that parents should consider doing a first aid course or refresher.


  • Thanks for all the information. I was stung by a wasp as a child. On my neck, while running. I found it so scary. And then again as an adult, while walking. I didn’t realize the wasp was walking on my watch strap. I felt something and without looking I scratched my wrist and so I got stung. My all arm was swollen the day after and I had to go to Emergency. Not a nice experience at all.


  • Great information. Thanks for sharing


  • I am highly allergic to bees but did have an aunty who put an onion on a bite that took the sting away.


  • got bitten by a wasp the other day , oh man that hurt so much.. my foot swelled up really big


  • great advise thank you


  • this is a really great article. the first time that my child ever got stung, i panicked because i had no idea what to do and i was worried that i wouldn’t have enough time to react in case she had a reaction to it. i saw that movie “my girl” when i was a kid and that’s all i could think about, when we went through this. luckily my child was fine though and the hospital staff kind of just laughed at my over reacting lol

    i know that they deal with that stuff all the time but for me, it was the first time at the rodeo, so to speak lol


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