Stinging insects have a sweet spot for August and September, especially, bees! It is hot and sticky with lots of people enjoying the last dog days of summer and plenty of overflowing garbage cans at parks and beaches. What a great time to be a bee!
I got stung by a bee. What should I do?
Immediately remove the stinger from your skin. This can help to decrease the amount of venom injected at the site. Don’t try to pull it out, instead scrape it out. Be careful not to squeeze the venom sack or the stinger or you may accidently inject more venom into your skin. The edge of a credit card or driver’s license works just fine.
Next you should wash the area with soap and water. Then apply a paste. Mix cool a small amount of water with baking soda and a crushed aspirin (but not if you are allergic to aspirin–no more reactions, please!). You can also mix in crushed papaya enzyme and apply it to the bee sting site. This will ease the pain and swelling. If you don’t have an aspirin, you can add a pinch of meat tenderizer mixed into the baking soda; the enzyme “papain” found in the meat tenderizer will bring down the inflammation.
What if my skin is still red or swollen after several days?
If you continue to experience intense pain, itching, redness, or develop a rash at the site of the bee sting on or after day 3, see your medical practitioner to be sure you are not developing a secondary skin infection or an uncommon late allergic reaction. They might prescribe an antihistamine, corticosteroid, and/or something for the pain if the skin reaction persists. If you have a skin infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed. You may also be tested for an allergy to bee venom.
A note from NurseGail.com: This post is for healthy people who are having a typical reaction and not allergic to bee venom. Applications of ice, on and off in 15 minute intervals, is helpful to control local pain and swelling. Ibuprofen or naproxen can also decrease the swelling and pain. Elevate the area of the sting if possible. See a doctor if you have numerous stings or experience a severe reaction. Call 9-1-1 if the reaction is life-threatening.