A bee sting is usually just a painful annoyance, but for some, it is life threatening. Treatment will depend, first, on whether or not you are allergic to bee and related insect stings. Severe allergic reactions can result in anaphylactic shock with rapid swelling shut of air passages. Immediate medical attention is required. If you aren’t allergic to the sting of bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets, simple treatments can be used to prevent the accompanying pain, swelling, and itching.
Remove the Stinger
If a honeybee stings you, remove the stinger as quickly as possible. Use a horizontal scraping motion or tweezers, but act quickly. Honeybees always leave behind the stinger and attached poison sac that continues pumping venom. Other members of the bee family do not leave the stinger embedded.
Many simple remedies found around the house are highly effective in easing the pain and swelling that accompany a bee sting.
Ice: The simplest remedy of all is the application of ice to the area of the sting for 20 to 30 minutes. This quickly relieves the pain, narrows the blood vessels so the venom doesn’t spread, and stops swelling.
Baking Soda: A paste made of baking soda and water can be applied to the sting. This relieves many of the symptoms.
Meat Tenderizer: Meat tenderizer is made of enzymes that break down the toxins in the venom, neutralizing its action. A paste made of tenderizer and water applied to the sting will effectively stop the pain, swelling, and later itching.
Clay: Clay facial masks are very effective in pulling the venom from the area of the sting. Clay attracts toxins, binding them to the structure of the clay molecules.
Other home remedies include moist tobacco, honey, or ammonia applied to the sting. If you are caught outside away from home, a simple remedy can be made from the common weed plantain. Crush the leaves and apply to the sting.
Many products are sold specifically for treating insect bites and stings. You may already have the following, which help alleviate the symptoms of bee stings. Antihistamines stop the body’s reaction to the venom, analgesics stop the pain, and anti-inflammatory products stop the swelling.
“Bee stings: Treatments and drugs – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bee-stings/DS01067/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs.
“Bee and Wasp Stings Treatment: First Aid Information for Bee and Wasp Stings.” First Aid Guide and Emergency Treatment Instructions . N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2010. http://firstaid.webmd.com/bee-and-wasp-stings-treatment.