First aid for insect stings in children & babies

First aid treatment for insect stings in children and babies

Each year, countless children and infants experience insect stings, ranging from mild irritation to severe allergic reactions. As caregivers and parents, we must understand the correct first aid procedures and preventive measures for these common occurrences. In this blog, Rose provides a comprehensive guide on managing insect stings in children and babies, underpinned by relevant regulations and best practices.

Key facts and statistics

Insect stings are a significant cause of medical consultations during the warmer months. Approximately 3% of children stung by bees or wasps experience severe allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis. The National Health Service (NHS) emphasises the importance of swiftly recognising and responding to allergic reactions to prevent life-threatening complications.

Key definitions

  • Insect stings - These are puncture wounds inflicted by insects (such as bees, wasps, and hornets), which inject venom into their target.
  • Anaphylaxis - A severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur rapidly after an insect sting and requires immediate medical attention.

Relevant legislation and regulations

In the UK, the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 mandates employers, including educational and childcare settings, to ensure a safe environment, encompassing readiness to manage first aid situations like insect stings. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 further require risk assessments that include risks from insect stings, particularly in environments frequented by children.

Best practices

Guidelines from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and NHS recommend having accessible first aid kits and trained personnel in all childcare settings. The Resuscitation Council (UK) provides protocols for managing severe allergic reactions, including adrenaline auto-injectors.

How to treat insect stings in children and babies

Immediate steps

  • Calm the child - Reassure the child as anxiety can worsen symptoms.
  • Remove the stinger - Use a hard-edged card to scrape off the stinger. Avoid tweezers as squeezing can inject more venom.
  • Clean the area - Wash the sting site with soap and water.
  • Apply ice - Use a cold pack to reduce swelling and pain.

Monitoring and medication

  • Monitor the child for signs of allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or mouth, and hives.
  • Offer antihistamines if recommended by healthcare providers, to alleviate itching and swelling.

When to seek medical help

  • Immediate emergency care is required if symptoms of anaphylaxis appear.
  • Consult a healthcare provider if symptoms persist or worsen.

Preventive measures

  • Avoidance - Keep children away from known insect nesting sites.
  • Clothing - Dress children in light-coloured and smooth-textured clothing.
  • Repellents - Use child-safe insect repellents as directed.


Childcare providers and parents should:

  • Educate themselves on the first aid response to insect stings and potential allergic reactions.
  • Regularly review first aid procedures and ensure that first aid kits are well-stocked and accessible.
  • Participate in first aid training that includes the management of insect stings and allergic reactions.


Insect stings in children, particularly those leading to allergic reactions, can pose serious health risks. Adequate preparation and knowledge are vital to ensuring swift and effective management of these incidents. By adhering to the outlined practices and regulations, caregivers can significantly mitigate these risks and provide a safer environment for children.

For more information on managing children's health emergencies and ensuring compliance with health and safety training standards. Click here to enrol in our comprehensive first aid courses tailored specifically for caregivers and educational staff to better prepare for and respond to such incidents confidently and competently.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always seek professional medical assistance in emergency situations.

About the author

Rose Mabiza

Rose has dedicated over 15 years to improving health and social care quality through practice, targeted education and training. Her extensive experience includes working with older adults, individuals with mental health conditions, and people with autism and learning disabilities.

First aid treatment for insect stings in children and babies - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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