Whenever a child is stung by a bee or wasp, there is great anxiety on the part of the family about the possibility of a severe allergic reaction. In fact, life-threatening anaphylaxis to insect stings in childhood is very rare, and children’s reactions usually are less severe than those of adults. However, the knowledge that people can die from an insect sting is firmly planted in the minds of the public. What are the data on sting reactions, and how can we educate patients to handle this situation?

Insect stings are common and can result in one of four reactions: 1) The most usual, lasting several hours, is a local reaction of pain, with a pruritic urticarial lesion that is less than 5 cm in diameter developing at the site of the sting. 2) Large local reactions, reported in about 10% of people who are stung, consist of swelling and...

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