For most of us, a bee sting is just a nuisance. We may experience a sharp pain, some swelling, itching, and redness at the site of the sting, but nothing serious. However, if you happen to be allergic to bee stings, or you get stung many times, bee stings can become problematic. They can even become life-threatening.
When a honeybee stings you, its stinger is left in your skin, ultimately killing the honeybee. Honeybees are the only type of bee that will die after they sting something. Wasps and other types of bees don’t lose their stingers, meaning they can sting you more than once.
If a bee stings you, it leaves behind a venomous toxin that can cause pain and other symptoms. Some are allergic to this toxin.
If you get stung by a bee, and experience any of the above severe reactions, get emergency medical help immediately. You may be experiencing anaphylactic shock, which is a life-threatening condition.
Home Remedies for Bee Stings
Unless you happen to be allergic to bee stings or are experiencing signs of a severe allergic reaction, you can treat most stings at home. If a honeybee stings you, remove the stinger immediately – this helps to curb the amount of toxins released into your skin. Wash the sting site with soap and water, then put ice on it to help reduce the swelling and venom absorption.
Most home treatments for bee stings aren’t supported by scientific research, but they have been passed down for generations. The following home remedies might help to relieve bee sting symptoms:
Honey may help with pain, itching, and healing. To treat a bee sting with honey, apply a small amount to the affected area. Cover with a loose bandage and leave it on for up to 4 hours.
A paste made from baking soda and water can neutralize bee venom to reduce pain, swelling, and itching. Apply a thick layer of baking soda paste to the affected area, and cover with a bandage. Leave it on for around 15 minutes and re-apply as needed.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar may also help to neutralize bee venom. Soak the sting site in a basin of apple cider vinegar for around 15 minutes. You can also soak a bandage in the vinegar and then apply it to the sting.
Some people suggest that alkaline toothpastes can help neutralize acidic honeybee venom. Simply dab a bit of toothpaste onto the affected area.
Aloe vera: Can help soothe the skin and relieve pain. If you have an aloe vera plant at home, break off a leaf and squeeze the gel directly onto the affected area.
Lavender essential oil: Has anti-inflammatory abilities and can help reduce swelling. Simply dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil. Then dab a few drops of this mixture onto the sting site.
Tea tree oil: This is a natural antiseptic and can help to ease bee sting pain. Mix with a carrier oil and apply directly to the sting site.
Witch hazel: This is a tried-and-tested home remedy for insect bites and bee stings. It can help decrease inflammation, itching, and pain. Apply witch hazel directly to the bee sting.
Decreasing Your Risk of Being Stung
If you know that you will be spending some time outdoors, take these steps to reduce your risk of being stung by a bee:
• Don’t walk around barefoot.
• Leave beehives well alone.
• Cover your food.
• Don’t wear bright colors with flowery prints.
• Don’t drink from open soda cans.