I Tri and Craft

thoughts from a mother of boys, a marathoner, a triathlete, a crafter, a wife, and a scientist

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Ian and the Bee

My son gets stung by bees.

I think it happens a lot, I am probably over reacting.

It doesn’t help that he is not a huge fan of wearing shoes on a regular basis.

Which is funny cause he loves shoes, he always wants to buy them.

This past weekend, on a Friday afternoon, he got stung by a bee.  Again.  He was stung the week before on his finger.

We  were swimming at my mom’s house, and I was on a lawn chair feeding Baby Sid.  Ian left the pool and was walking the grass.  I was watching him, he got about four steps in the grass and stopped.  While looking at his feet he brought his right foot back and kinda shook it.  Then he put it down and started crying.

While this was happening I was calling to my mom, who was in the water, that Ian was getting stung by a bee.

She rushes out of the water and brings him back to sit on a chair while she gets the stinger out and washes the venom off his toe.

The bee stung him inside the big toe on his right foot in the joint between the metatarsal and phalange.  My mom put a poultice of baking soda and water on the site of the sting.

On a side note:

Growing up we had a pool, the property behind our house was home to a farmer who also raised honey bees.  He thought the far end of his property, next to the cedar trees would be a great place for his bees.  Since that area butted up against the back of my mom’s property, we didn’t really agree that it was a great place for bees.

The bees were constantly coming to our pool for water, which meant we got stung all the time.  Luckily none of us had any bad reactions to the bee stings.  Every time we got stung we would make a poultice of baking soda and water, just like our mom taught us.

Why do we use baking soda and water?

My theory on why baking soda works is because Honey Bee venom is an acid called apitoxin (pH 4.5-5.5).   By adding sodium bicarbonate, we are creating a neutralization reaction.

Poultices have been used forever as a way to draw out toxins from the body.  Making a poultice out of a neutralizing agent also helps draw out the venom from the site of injection.  Some claim mud works just as well.

A paste of baking soda and vinegar (mainly apple cider vinegar) can also help with bee stings.  This is an endothermic neutralization reaction, it will bubble up some when they are add together.  It is said that the vinegar helps with the pain, but I haven’t tried it, so I don’t really know if this is true.

You may have heard to make a poultice with meat tenderizer, supposedly there is an enzyme in the unseasoned meat tenderizer that helps to break down apitoxin.

I suspect the best would be a paste would be made with vinegar and mixture of baking soda and meat tenderizer.

After a while the pain subsided and he was back to his normal self, ready to tackle the yard filled with clover flowers and more bees.

About 12-15 hours later, at 5 o’clock in the morning, he woke up in tears telling me his foot hurt.

Ian: my foot hurts. I got stinged by a bee esterday.

Me: I know honey, do you want some medicine to help the with the pain?

Ian: ok….No mama not my mouf, I need medicine for my foot, not my mouf.  My foot still hurts

Me: I know honey, this is medicine we put in our mouth and it makes the pain go away.

Ian: but it still hurts.  I needa band-aid

I had given him some Tylenol and he eventually went back to sleep, still thinking he needed medicine on his foot.

When he got up at a more reasonable time his foot was swollen and still hurt.  It was red up to his ankle and on the ball of his foot, which was also hot to the touch.  He didn’t have a fever, nor did he have any trouble breathing.

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I wish I had a comparison picture for you to see how bad it was.

Since this was a Saturday I called our pediatricians advice nurse.  She told me to give him some Benadryl to help with the swelling.

We had a birthday party to go to, so while the Benadryl made him a little slower, the swollen painful foot didn’t stop him.  He couldn’t put any pressure on his big toe so he was walking on the outside of his foot and limping around.

After the party we went to my mom’s house for my Aunt’s birthday dinner.

His foot continued to swell and turned from red to a purplish color.  His foot was still hot, so the purple color was not from lack of blood circulation.  He was also starting to complain about the pain again.  He could not bend his toes, they were huge!

He had a bath to soak it and we added another baking soda poultice, thinking it might help draw out more venom.

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My family had me convinced I needed to take him to urgent care, which was now closed.

So I called the advice nurse again.

She told me watch for a fever, if he starts to have trouble breathing, red streaks going up his leg or his face gets swollen.  If any of those happen then I need to take him to the ER, otherwise we could wait to see the pediatrician the next day.

The next day was Sunday, so our Dr wasn’t there, but one of his partners were.  By the time we got to the Dr office Ian was walking and jumping on his foot.  It was still red and swollen, but not as bad as the night before.

What Ian had was a local allergic reaction to the bee venom as opposed to a systemic allergic reaction.  This means he is not allergic to bees.  If he was allergic to bees he would have had hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling in the face.  Any of those symptoms can indicate an allergy.

If he had any streaking up his leg, that would have indicated an infection.

The Dr said it could take a couple of days to a week for his foot to be back to normal.  And it would probably start itching.

Since my husband was out of cell service on a fishing trip, he know about it until he got home Sunday night.  To which he replies “I used to swell like that when I got stung as kid too.”

Would I have still been panicking the night before if I had know that?



Watch out for the bees!