As you may have read in my last blog worker bees only sting if they feel threatened. But there are times when you just can't avoid being stung, if this happens what should you do?
Please note: Bee stings can give different reactions, from temporary pain and discomfort to a severe allergic reaction. This blog does not cover severe allergic reactions. If you have a severe allergic reaction please seek urgent medical attention. If a reaction persists for over a week or covers an area greater than 7–10 cm please see a doctor.
Taking the Sting Out
When a bee stings you, the barbed stinger remains embedded in the skin, attached to the stinger is the venom sac, which can carry on pumping venom into the body for up to 10 minutes. For this reason, doctors recommend removing the stinger as soon as possible.
It used to be said that pinching or squeezing the stinger could empty the venom sac into the sting, making things worse. Studies have since shown the amount of venom released does not change whether the sting is pinched or scraped off, but a delay of a few seconds leads to more venom being injected. Therefore, stingers can be removed by either scraping or brushing them away, or by pulling them out of the skin.
The sting may be painful for a few hours and swelling and itching may last for a week. You should avoid scratching the area as this may increase the itching and swelling. Once the stinger is removed try to wash the area with soap and warm water and place a cold compress on top to reduce the pain and swelling. Or you could try any of these remedies:
- If you are in a remote area you could spread mud on the area and let it dry, but wash with soap and warm water when you can
- Spread baking soda paste on the area and allow it to dry. Using this or the mud draws the poison out of the area
- Pain medications and antihistamines can also help relieve pain, swelling, and itching in the area
- Apply toothpaste
- Mix a paste of vinegar and baking soda and place on the sting
- Apply honey
- Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream.
Some of our customers recommend
- Rub an ice cube over the area till it is melted or the pain has gone away which might take two cubes! This method is so effective and seems to stop swelling and even the itchiness you get a few days later!
- Chop an onion in half and pop it on the sting, it seems to draw out the nasty stuff.
- Take Homeopathic Apis.
- Apply vinegar straight away, followed by a kombucha scoby wrapped on to the sting.
- Distraction for a child can work a treat