Being stung by a bee is a painful and sometimes dangerous experience. The level of pain felt by a bee sting victim is in direct proportion to the type of bee, the area of the bee sting and the person’s sensitivity to the venom contained in the bee’s stinger. To treat a bee sting, it's important to remove the stinger, ice the wound, and watch carefully for any allergic reaction.
The first thing to do to treat a bee sting is to locate and remove the bee’s stinger from the skin. This is very important, because the stinger contains venom that will continue to be released, causing the sting to worsen. When the stinger is located, it should be scraped off horizontally with a clean finger nail or plastic card. If this doesn’t work, you can remove the stinger with tweezers. Pinch the area around the bee sting so that the stinger rises above the surface of the skin and pull it out with the tweezers.
After the stinger is removed, apply ice or a cold wet compress to the sting site. This helps to numb the pain and soreness of the sting. It is important to watch the bee sting victim for any signs of anaphylactic shock, which is a serious allergic reaction to the bee’s venom.
The signs of this reaction include difficulty breathing, seizure, loss of consciousness, weakness, confusion, vomiting and/or hives. These symptoms usually occur seconds to minutes after an initial sting and require immediate emergency medical intervention. Many people who have a history of allergic reactions to bee stings carry an epinephrine injection to treat a bee sting and prevent anaphylactic shock. It is important to realize that anaphylactic shock can occur even if someone has never had a reaction to previous bee stings.
When there is no longer a threat of allergic reaction, you can treat the sting with many household materials that are probably already on hand. One very effective way to treat a bee sting is to make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the sting site. Another common home remedy is meat tenderizer, which, when sprinkled generously over the site, can effectively reduce pain and swelling. You can also apply honey to the area, which relieves the pain.
There are also many commercial products available on the market to treat bee stings. When you are traveling, camping or engaged in other activities away from home, having these products on hand is a good idea because it never hurts to be prepared.