A bee sting can be painful and even life-threatening. Sometimes a bee sting can be treated with simple first aid, but in other cases, a trip to the hospital may be necessary. Be prepared and know what to do if you get stung.
How to Treat a Bee Sting
If you get stung by a bee, remove the stinger as soon as possible by scraping it out with an object such as a credit card. Removing the stinger with tweezers could release more venom. Clean the site with sting wipes or soap and water. Then apply hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching, swelling, and redness. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or an ice pack can help with pain and swelling. If you have not had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years, you should get one as soon as possible.
If you are allergic to bee stings, you may have a generalized allergic reaction. Symptoms may include tingling, dizziness, itching, hives, swelling of the lips and tongue, trouble breathing, and loss of consciousness. These symptoms can be fatal if you do not receive immediate medical attention.
For a mild allergic reaction, an antihistamine, steroids, and possibly epinephrine can be used. You may need to be kept in the hospital for observation before being released. A severe allergic reaction can cause low blood pressure or trouble breathing, which can be life-threatening. Doctors may insert a breathing tube, and you may need to be admitted to the hospital, possibly to the intensive care unit. If you are allergic to bee stings, you should always carry an epinephrine auto-injector. It could save your life before an ambulance arrives.
If you had an allergic reaction to a previous bee sting, you are likely to have a reaction again. If you did not have an allergic reaction before, you may have a reaction to a subsequent bee sting. If you receive multiple stings but do not have any signs of an allergic reaction, a trip to the hospital is still recommended. The doctor may perform blood tests. Stings inside the mouth, throat, or eyes require immediate medical attention.
How to Avoid Bee Stings
If you plan to spend time outdoors, there is a good chance that you could encounter one or more bees. Take some simple steps to protect yourself. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, closed shoes, and insect repellent. Don’t wear bright colors, perfume, or hairspray that could attract bees. If you see a beehive, leave it alone. Bees will only sting if they believe the hive is threatened. If you see a bee approaching you, quickly walk away.
Be Prepared to Treat a Bee Sting
If you plan to spend time working in your yard, hiking, or camping, take precautions to protect yourself from bee stings and be prepared to treat one should it occur. Order sting wipes, cold packs, and hydrocortisone cream from 1st Aid Supplies.