Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Bee or Yellow Jacket Sting


  • Stung by a honeybee, bumblebee, hornet, wasp, or yellow jacket
  • Over 95 percent of stings are from honey bees or yellow jackets
  • The main symptoms are pain and redness

Call or Return If

  • Trouble breathing or swallowing occurs (mainly during the 2 hours after the sting.) Call 911.
  • Sting starts to look infected
  • Redness gets larger after 2 days
  • Swelling becomes huge
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic


  • The main symptoms are pain, itching, swelling and redness at the sting site.
  • Severe pain or burning at the site lasts 1 to 2 hours. Itching often follows the pain.
  • Swelling. The bee sting may swell for 48 hours after the sting. The swelling can be small or large. Stings on the face can cause a lot of swelling around the eye. It looks bad, but this is not serious.
  • Redness. Bee stings are often red. That doesn't mean they are infected. Infections rarely happen with stings.
  • The redness can last 3 days and the swelling 7 days.


  • The bee's stinger injects venom into the skin.
  • The venom is what causes the symptoms.

Prevention of Bee Stings

  • Don't go barefoot if bees are around.
  • Be careful in gardens and orchards.
  • Insect repellents do not work against these stinging insects.

After Care Advice

  • Bee stings are common.
  • The main symptoms are pain and redness.
  • The swelling can be large. This does not mean it's an allergy.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Try to Remove the Stinger (if present):
  • Only honey bees leave a stinger.
  • The stinger looks like a tiny black dot in the sting.
  • Use a fingernail or credit card edge to scrape it off.
  • If the stinger is below the skin surface, leave it alone. It will come out with normal skin shedding.
Meat Tenderizer:
  • Make a meat tenderizer paste with a little water. Use a cotton ball to rub it on the sting. Do this once for 20 minutes. Reason: This may neutralize the venom and reduce the pain and swelling. Caution: Do not use near the eye.
  • If you don't have any, rub on an aluminum-based deodorant. You can also put a baking soda paste on the sting. Do this for 20 minutes.
Cold Pack:
  • If pain does not improve after using the meat tenderizer paste, rub with an ice cube.
  • Do this for 20 minutes.
Pain Medicine:
  • To help with the pain, give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen. Use as needed.
Steroid Cream:
  • For itching or swelling, put 1% hydrocortisone cream on the sting. No prescription is needed.
  • Use 3 times per day.
Allergy Medicine:
  • For hives or severe itching, give a dose of Benadryl by mouth.
What to Expect:
  • Severe pain or burning at the site lasts 1 to 2 hours.
  • Normal swelling from venom can increase for 48 hours after the sting.
  • The redness can last 3 days.
  • The swelling can last 7 days.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2021 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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