How Do I Give First Aid for Bee Stings?

Christina Edwards
Christina Edwards

When treating someone who has been stung by a bee, it is important to remove the singer from a person's arm and immediately wash the area with soap and warm water, if possible. You can then spread mud or a baking soda paste on the area and allow it to dry. Cold compresses, pain medications, and antihistamines can also help relieve pain, swelling, and itching in the area. There are times, however, when typical first aid for bee stings may not be enough. For example, a bee sting can be dangerous in individuals with bee sting allergies, and they should be seen by emergency medical professionals as soon as possible.

Antihistamine creams can help with a bee sting.
Antihistamine creams can help with a bee sting.

Unlike wasps, which can sting a person multiple times, most bees can only sting once before they die. When a bee stings a person, its stinger usually gets embedded into the skin, along with a sac filled with poison. If the stinger and sac are not removed promptly, the poison will continue to be pumped into the body. Removing the stingers is one of the most important parts of first aid for bee stings. Stingers can be removed by either scraping or brushing them away, or by pulling them out of the skin.

The next step in first aid for bee stings is washing the area. Although an infection from a bee sting is rare, it can still occur. To help prevent this, the area should be washed thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Antihistamines may be taken to treat pain and inflammation caused by a bee sting.
Antihistamines may be taken to treat pain and inflammation caused by a bee sting.

You can also use several natural treatments when you are administering first aid for bee stings. Covering the area with a baking soda paste or mud are two of the most popular natural bee sting treatments. As the paste or mud dries, it draws some of the poison out of the area. This method is generally considered unsanitary, however, and the area should be washed thoroughly after the dried mud is removed.

Cold compresses can also be used as first aid for bee stings. Most experts agree, however, that ice should not be applied to bee stings. Instead, you can apply a cold, damp washcloth to the area for several minutes. This can help relieve pain and swelling.

Many over-the-counter medications can also be used for first aid for bee stings. Many pain relievers, for instance, not only help reduce the pain of a bee sting, but they can also help relieve inflammation and swelling. Oral and topical antihistamines, as well as hydrocortisone, can help relieve the itching that occurs after a bee sting.

While you will most likely be able to treat the majority of bee stings at home, some will require immediate medical attention. Individuals who are stung several times should be checked out by a medical professional, for example. Also, anyone who is stung in the mouth or nose should also see a doctor as soon as possible, since these areas can swell rapidly and make breathing difficult.

A bee allergy can sometimes cause a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis. This can sometimes cause the tongue or throat to swell so much that a person is unable to breath. People with bee allergies are usually advised to carry an epinephrine shot with them at all times. Even when these shots are used, a person with a bee allergy should still seek emergency medical attention, since the effects will often wear off after several minutes.

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Discussion Comments


@Iluviaporos - You can inadvertently upset a hive of bees, by stumbling on it by accident. There was a very active hive established by my mother's vegetable garden last summer and we had to be careful not to upset them (although they were wonderful for pollinating the crops).

Medications for treating bee stings are a good thing to have on hand anyway, since mostly they are useful for a wide range of ailments. But if you do happen to get stung in a bad place, like near your eye or mouth or throat, it's definitely worth getting it checked to make sure you aren't going to be in danger. Remember that if the swelling is dangerous, it will probably happen very quickly, so don't wait to see if it's going to be bad, just start driving. You can always turn back if it turns out to be nothing.


@irontoenail - Well, as long as people aren't complacent about it. Remember being stung once isn't a guarantee that you're not allergic, since the reaction won't happen until the second sting anyway.

And multiple stings could kill anyone, even if they aren't allergic. Although multiple stings aren't likely to happen unless you set out to upset a hive, which, needless to say, is an extremely foolish thing to do.


Ideally you should scrape away the stinger, because pulling it out, even with tweezers, might cause you to squeeze on the poison sac at the tip and push more venom into the sting.

Mostly it's not really a big deal for an adult who isn't allergic to bee stings. It might upset a child considerably, but often I think the fear is worse than the actual sting.

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    • Antihistamine creams can help with a bee sting.
      By: carroteater
      Antihistamine creams can help with a bee sting.
    • Antihistamines may be taken to treat pain and inflammation caused by a bee sting.
      By: Wellford Tiller
      Antihistamines may be taken to treat pain and inflammation caused by a bee sting.