Bee stings are a complete nuisance that gives you an immediate sharp pain, redness, swelling, itchiness, and warmth. Although it doesn’t give you any serious complication, you do need an immediate bee sting treatment to cure the condition. People who are allergic to bees or get stung by many bees will be in a more problematic condition. It can be life-threatening and needs immediate medical attention.
What happens when a honey bee stings you?
If a honeybee stings you, the stinger releases into your skin. It kills the honeybee in the process but does harm to you too. Honeybees are the only one among all other insects to die after they sting. This doesn’t happen to wasps or hornets after they sting. This is also why they might sting you more than once.
Bee strings leave your body with a venomous toxin that causes pain, allergies, and other symptoms. You can expect redness, swelling, and itchiness, like an allergic reaction on the sting site. These are mild bee sting symptoms that happen to all. You can also have serious reactions like:
- Constant itchiness
- Pale skin
- Tongue swelling
- Throat swelling
- Breathing difficulty
- Rapid pulse
- Vomiting and nausea
If you have any of the severe symptoms from a sting, you need immediate medical assistance. You might have an anaphylactic shock, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Traditional bee sting treatment
Traditionally, the bee sting first aid was cold compress. It actually does help you reduce swelling and pain before you get proper treatment. Anti-inflammatory medicines like Advil and Motrin were also in use. For itchiness and redness, remedies like calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream were used.
Many people still take an oral antihistamine like Benadryl for severe itching. You must not scratch the sting to avoid redness and swelling. If you get an anaphylactic shock after getting a bee sting, you need to carry EpiPen all the time. It prevents a severe allergy if a bee stings you again.
Home remedies for bee sting treatment
Bee stings react as a swollen and painful bump. But if an insect sting is not severe you will be able to treat it at home. Pain and swelling around the site go away within a few days and doesn’t need treatment. You can use home remedies for bee sting treatment to heal the process.
If you have an allergic reaction to bee stings, you will need immediate medical care. The swelling can spread outward from the affected area. This is also a type of allergic reaction that indicates immediate care.
It is time you know the top home remedies that answer how to treat a bee sting. But before you use a remedy, you need to inspect the affected area. If the stinger is on your skin, you can use gauze to remove it. Scraping out with a fingernail also works. But you shouldn’t squeeze the stinger with your hand or a tweezer.
Honey bees will sting you once so home remedies work for them. However, for wasp sting treatment you might need instant medical care as it is usually multiple stings. When you can remove a stinger and the venom sac from your skin, it prevents irritation. Find out what you can do at home to cure your sting instantly:
Ice reduces swelling and pain. It works as an immediate aid to soothe the affected area. You must wash the area immediately after you have a bee sting. You need to remove the bee venom and apply ice to reduce pain. Check out the following points to know how to use ice as a bee sting treatment:
- Take an ice pack and wrap it around the affected area
- If you don’t have ice, use a frozen vegetable or a bottle of cold water
- Place the ice on the sting area and hold it for several minutes
- The area will soon become numb
- Repeat every time you feel pain and need soothing
Always use cotton or material of cloth that protects your skin from raw ice. If you expose a bee sting to raw ice, it will damage the skin more.
2. Essential oils
Essential oils have antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal elements. These oils have been in use as home remedies for ages but have little significance on how it works when you have a bee sting.
Essential oils that we use in home remedies include:
- Tea tree
- Witch hazel
Before you apply essential oil on your skin, you must mix it well with a neutral carrier oil like olive. The mixture is like 1 drop of the essential oil for every 4-5 drops of carrier oil. You need to mix according to how much you need to apply. Note that essential oils can have allergic reactions. If you know you have this problem, avoid this remedy entirely.
3. Aloe Vera
The therapeutic benefits of aloe vera gel moisturize and soothes your skin. A study in 2015 stated that aloe vera gel is rich in antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. You just need to spread a little amount of fresh aloe vera gel on the sting and reduce swelling. It prevents the site from infection. The gel is available in most drug stores but best if you can buy a fresh leaf, cut it, and extract the gel.
4. Calamine lotion
Many people turn to calamine lotion to relieve itchiness on the skin. It gives you an instant solution to reduce pain and itching caused by a bee sting, wasp sting or hornet sting. If you find the affected area severely itchy, you must add calamine lotion and rub it.
Honey combats swelling and inflammation. It includes medicinal properties that offer an instant effect on swelling and inflammation. The antibacterial agents in pure honey prevent infection and heal the area gradually.
There are many people who use honey extracts while dressing wounds. It is a traditional remedy but definitely effective. It can be ironic that honeybees produce honey and that works like a remedy to their sting. Make sure you follow this remedy when indoors so that it doesn’t attract any more of its kind.
6. Baking soda
There has been no quality research or study that proves how baking soda works for sting treatment. But some people have tried or believe that baking soda neutralizes the venom from bees. Baking soda can damage your skin as it is high in alkaline. Medical experts tend to avoid this remedy and do not recommend it for insect stings.
7. Apple cider vinegar
There are people who claim that apple cider vinegar helps reduce swelling from bee stings. But there has been no clinical research to prove this. It does have a lot of health benefits but you need to try this to ensure if it works for stings. Note that every form of vinegar is acidic and can harm your skin.
Toothpaste for bee sting treatment might seem unconventional but it might work. When you spread alkaline toothpaste on the affected area, it neutralizes the venom. There isn’t any clinical study to support such use of toothpaste but it might work.
You must apply and spread a wee bit of the toothpaste. Make sure you don’t keep it on your skin for a long time. Wash off the toothpaste once you find the pain lessen.
How to treat a bee sting medically?
An ordinary bee sting will not cause you an allergic reaction, and the home remedies will be enough. But when you have multiple stings or you have wasp sting/hornet sting, it can be a medical emergency. If you have an allergic reaction, you will still need immediate medical attention.
If you have an anaphylactic attack, there has to be an emergency medical team to perform CPR on you. CPR is cardiopulmonary resuscitation that prevents you from going breathless. It is a condition where your heart can stop beating and you need immediate medication like:
- Epinephrine to reduce the allergic reaction
- Oxygen to breathe
- Cortisone and intravenous antihistamines to reduce inflammation of air passages
- A beta-agonist to relieve breathing issues
Epinephrine autoinjector for sting treatment
If you are allergic to bee stings, the doctor will give you epinephrine autoinjector in an emergency. You will need it at all times until you are absolutely out of danger.
An autoinjector is a mix of the concealed needle and combined syringe that injects one dose of medication when pressed against the thigh. Everyone using epinephrine must check the expiration date. Taking a shot after the expiry date can be fatal.
You need to know how doctors use an autoinjector if you need to continue using it for months. People who might help you take the shot must learn how to administer the drug. Any medical personnel who attends you during a dangerous anaphylactic reaction is allowed to give you the epinephrine injection.
You also need an alert bracelet to ensure that the allergy is from a bee. You need to know which insect it is specifically if it is not a bee.
Allergy shots for sting treatment
Any type of insect sting can cause anaphylaxis. If you have a serious reaction to a sting or multiple stings, your doctor will refer you to an allergist to get a test done. If you do have an allergy, the expert will give you allergy shots. This is a type of immunotherapy that you need to take for a few years. It gradually makes you immune to allergies so you will not be serious if you are stung by an insect.
When to consult a doctor?
Bee sting treatment is an easy DIY process that you can do at home. You don’t need to visit a doctor until you feel it is serious. If you experience an allergic reaction, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, hives, it is an emergency.
If you get a bee sting when you take EpiPen and you take a shot after the sting, you need to visit a doctor immediately. People who have multiple stings need emergency medical care. You must call the doctor if the symptoms of bee stings don’t improve within a week.
How to prepare for an appointment?
If an allergist or a doctor goes through tests, they will need answers like:
- Where and when were you stung?
- What were the symptoms after being stung?
- Do you have an allergic reaction? Is it minor or major?
- Do you have other allergies like hay fever?
- What medicines do you take?
- Do you have any other health problem?
You need to ask your doctor questions like:
- What to do if I get stung again?
- Do I need emergency care if I have an allergic reaction?
- Should I use epinephrine autoinjector in an emergency?
- How to prevent a sting?
Treatment of minor bee sting reaction
Here we summarize the quick aid you need to apply when there is a minor bee sting:
- Remove the stinger as soon as possible. It takes a few seconds for the venom to spread in the body. Get the stinger out in any possible way mentioned above.
- Wash the affected area with water and soap
- Apply cold compress
Treatment of moderate bee sting reaction
Check out the types of bee sting treatment that you can try when the condition is moderate:
- Remove the stinger as soon as possible
- Wash the sting with water and soap
- Apply cold compress
- Take a pain reliever like ibuprofen to ease discomfort
- If the sting is on the leg or arm, elevate it
- Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to soothe redness, swelling, and itching
- If the swell or itch is extremely bothersome, you will need an oral antihistamine that includes diphenhydramine like Benadryl or chlorpheniramine like Chlor-Trimeton
- Don’t scratch the sting area as it worsens the swell and itch. It also increases the risk of infection.
How to prevent a sting?
No matter what bee sting treatment you use, a sting is painful and it will leave you with a bad reaction. We suggest you keep calm as if you don’t have allergies, you will be fine. However, bee allergy can happen any time in life irrespective of you getting stung or not. You need to keep a note of the symptoms and consult a doctor.
If you know you will spend time outdoors, you need to take preventive measures to keep away from insect or bee stings. To do that you must:
- Not walk barefoot
- Not poke beehives or go near them
- Avoid sweet-smelling perfume and body products
- Cover your food
- Not drive with open windows
- Not drink from open cans of soda
- Keep away from uncovered dustbins
Now you know what to do when you have a bee sting. Make sure you apply first aid and give yourself medical attention as and when required. If you have an allergy from insects and stings, ask your doctor to give you a definitive way to heal the condition.
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