Insect Bites (Bee/Yellow Jacket Stings Or Itchy/Painful Insect Bites)

A bite involves biting with the insect’s mouth parts and removing a drop of blood from the human. A sting involves injecting a poison into the human from the insect’s stinger.

Bee Sting

Bee And Yellow Jacket Stings

Your child was stung by a honeybee, bumblebee, hornet, wasp, or yellow jacket. Over 95% are from yellow jackets. These stings cause immediate painful red bumps. Although the pain is usually better in 2 hours, the swelling may increase for up to 24 hours. Multiple stings (more than 10) can cause vomiting, diarrhea, a headache, and fever. This is a toxic reaction related to the amount of venom received (e.g., not an allergic reaction). A sting on the tongue can cause swelling that interferes with breathing.

Home Care for Insect Bites or Stings

Treatment. If you see a little black dot in the bite, the stinger is still present (this occurs only with honeybee stings). Remove it by scraping it off. If only a small fragment remains, don’t worry about it. Then rub each sting for 20 minutes with a cotton ball soaked in a meat tenderizer solution. This will neutralize the venom and relieve the pain. If meat tenderizer is not available, apply aluminum-based deodorant or a baking soda solution for 20 minutes. For persistent pain, massage with an ice cube for 10 minutes. Give Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen immediately for relief of pain and burning.

Prevention. Some bee stings can also be prevented by avoiding gardens and orchards and by not going barefoot. Insect repellents are not effective against these stinging insects.

Itchy Or Painful Insect Bites Definition

Insect Bite

Bites of mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas, and bedbugs usually cause itchy, red bumps. The size of the swelling can vary from a dot to 1⁄2 inch. The larger size does not mean that your child is allergic to the insect bite. Mosquito bites near the eye always cause massive swelling. The following are clues that a bite is due to a mosquito: itchiness, a central raised dot in the swelling, bites on surfaces not covered by clothing, summertime, and the age of the child (e.g., she is an infant). In contrast to mosquitoes, fleas and bedbugs don’t fly; therefore, they crawl under clothing to nibble. Flea bites often turn into little blisters in young children.

Bites of horseflies, deerflies, gnats, fire ants, harvester ants, blister beetles, and centipedes usually cause a painful, red bump. Within a few hours, fire ant bites change to blisters or pimples.

Home Care

Itchy Insect Bites. Apply calamine lotion or a baking soda paste to the area of the bite. If the itch is severe (as with chiggers), apply nonprescription 1% hydrocortisone cream 4 times daily. Another way to reduce the itch is to apply firm, sharp, direct, steady pressure to the bite for 10 seconds. A fingernail, pen cap, or other object can be used. Encourage your child not to pick at the bites or they will leave marks.

Painful Insect Bites. Rub the area of the bite with a cotton ball soaked in meat tenderizer solution for 20 minutes. This will relieve the pain. If you don’t have any meat tenderizer, use a baking soda solution. Give Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for pain relief.


Mosquitoes and Chiggers. Many of these bites can be prevented by applying an insect repellent sparingly to the clothing or exposed skin before your child goes outdoors or into the woods. Repellents are essential for infants (especially those less than 1 year old) because they cannot bat the insects away.

Bedbugs. The bed and baseboards can be sprayed with 1% malathion, but young children must be kept away from the area because this substance is somewhat poisonous. You may need to call an exterminator.

Fleas. Usually you will find fleas on dogs or cats. If the bites started after a move into a different home, fleas from the previous owner’s pet are the most common cause. Fleas can often be removed by


  • Breathing or swallowing is difficult (call 911).
  • Hives are present.
  • There are 10 or more stings.
  • Your child starts acting very sick.

During regular hours if:

  • Swelling of the hand (or foot) spreads past the wrist (or ankle).
  • You have other questions or concerns.