With spring in full swing and summer just around the corner, bee sting season is upon us – if that’s a thing. While most stings are treatable at home with various treatments and home remedies if you’re allergic to bee stings or if you get stung numerous times, you may develop a more serious reaction that requires emergency care.
Minor Reaction Symptoms:
- Slight swelling and redness around sting area
- A small, raised welt at the sting area
- A small white spot where the stinger punctured the skin
- Immediate sharp burning pain at the sting site
Severe Allergic Reaction Symptoms:
Seek Care Immediately
While only about 4% of people who get stung by a bee develop a severe allergic reaction, they’re potentially life-threatening and requires immediate emergency treatment. Signs and symptoms generally include:
- A weak and rapid pulse
- Difficulty breathin
- Skin reactions in parts of the body other than the sting area
- Swelling of the tongue and throat
- Dizziness or fainting
- Loss of consciousness
Multiple Bee Stings:
Seek Care Immediately
If you’re stung more than a dozen times, even from honeybees, the venom may induce a toxic reaction and make you feel suddenly ill. Some symptoms of multiple bee stings include:
A Few Home Remedies
Before we dive into some at-home treatments for bee stings, the following steps should be taken first, before administering any home remedy:
- Remove the stinger – don’t believe the old wives tales either… you can take it out with your finger. Act quickly to stop the stinger from pumping more venom into you.
- Look for symptoms of an allergic reaction (see symptoms list above)
- Take an ibuprofen or acetaminophen to dull the pain
- Wash the sting with soap and water
Apply toothpaste to the sting site every 5 hours. The tingling sensation will mimic the scratching sensation and will help the wound heal. Plus, you’ll smell o’ so minty fresh.
This is the most widely known/used treatment. Just apply ice to the sting site for twenty minutes, with a fabric barrier between the ice and your skin. The symptoms usually dissipate quickly and the relief lasts for about 5 hours before reapplication is needed.
Apply some maximum strength hydrocortisone cream to the sting site and reapply every four hours. Most people only report slight relief with this method and it’s usually used in combination with another technique.
Calamine Lotion with Analgesic
Apply calamine lotion to sting site—you should start to feel a soothing tingle. Wait up to 45 minutes for the symptoms to be fully relieved and reapply every 4 hours.
Apply honey to the sting and you’ll feel a cool and soothing sensation—but it only lasts about thirty minutes and it can be a sticky mess.
Apply a roll-on deodorant to the sting site and the symptoms will be displaced, rather than relieved. The immediate sting site may feel relief but the surrounding area around the sting will not feel any better. Reapplication is needed every 8 hours.
Hold a slice of raw onion on your sting site—as a warning, a percentage of people report that this actually makes the symptoms worse, so you’ve been warned. Also, you’ll smell like an onion. This should be a last resort.