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What Are the Different Ways to Treat a Bee Sting?

By Debra Durkee
Updated May 17, 2024
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A bee sting can be painful and in some individuals can have a dangerous allergic reaction. Ways to treat a bee sting depend on a person's reaction to it and how many stings occur. If the individual is allergic, the administration of antihistamines or a prescription medication to control swelling may be necessary; in the case of many stings, emergency medical attention may be needed. In other cases, removing the stinger and applying a cool compress to relieve swelling in the immediate area can be sufficient for a single sting.

Determining whether or not the individual is allergic to bee stings is the foremost priority to effectively treat a bee sting. Many do not realize they have an allergy to the venom released by a bee until stung, and the reaction can manifest itself in different ways. Those stung may feel lightheaded and quickly develop difficulty breathing due to a heavy, swollen, and dry feeling in the throat and chest that can develop into chest pains. There may also be feelings of nausea and dizziness, and hives may spread from the area of the sting. The reaction generally spreads throughout the entire body extremely quickly.

If the individual has had an allergic reaction before, he or she will most likely have access to some form of medication. The drug usually used to treat a bee sting is called epinephrine, which will open blocked airways when administered via an injection. Also produced naturally by humans, this is one of the chemicals that surges through the body when a person experiences an adrenaline rush. Reactions can be worse with a large number of stings, and emergency medical attention can be required in severe cases. Some individuals will have a stronger reaction to the venom of different insects, such as wasps or yellowjackets.

For those not allergic, one of the first things to do to treat a bee sting is remove the stinger; this will help prevent an infection. Tweezers or a knife can usually be used. An individual not allergic can still display some of the symptoms of a reaction if stung enough; in the case of only a single bee sting, swelling and itching usually occur in the immediate area. A cool compress to treat a bee sting can help reduce the swelling, and an over-the-counter antihistamine will help relieve reactions such as itching or redness. Bee stingers often contain bacteria, so rinsing the area with soap and water or applying an antibacterial cream will help prevent infection.

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Discussion Comments

By Lostnfound — On Jun 11, 2014

Would you believe a yellow jacket got me in the *grocery store*? For real! I was thumbing through a magazine. The magazine rack was near the produce section, which probably explains the presence of the insect. I kept feeling something tickling my face, and reached up to brush it away.

Suddenly, my index finger was on fire and I saw the yellow jacket fly away! Holy smokes, but it hurt! I'm not normally allergic, but I started feeling kind of dizzy and managed to make it home. I took some Benadryl and felt better. My mom said the yellow jacket probably got me in just the right place on my finger to get a lot of venom in the sting, so it made me a little sickish feeling.

A honeybee sting is nothing compared to a yellow jacket sting. Those little devils hurt!

By Grivusangel — On Jun 10, 2014

My mom always swore by powdered meat tenderizer as an antidote for a bee sting. I am not sure why, but that's always been her go-to remedy.

I'm not allergic, thank goodness. The two or three times I've been stung, I think I stepped on the bee in the yard every time. It's been a long time since I was stung by a bee.

I was in my late teens the last time it happened, and I remember going inside and getting the tweezers and pulling out the stinger. The venom sac was still intact, fortunately. I made a meat tenderizer paste for the area, put in on there, then slapped on a band aid. It hurt for a few minutes, but then it wasn't bad.

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