What to do if you are stung by a bee...

Before we get started it is important to know that there is no need to fear a honeybee - they are generally not aggressive creatures and will only sting if they feel that they are in danger or if they have been stepped on. It is also only the female bees that are able to sting. While being stung by a bee is not an enjoyable experience, there is often no threat to your health or life. The usual reactions to a sting are a temporary sharp pain, itchiness, swelling, redness, and warmth.

If you are experiencing more severe symptoms as a result of an allergic reaction it is possible that you will go into anaphylactic shock. In these cases, the best thing to do is visit the emergency room.

We’ve listed the simple steps to follow to remove and treat a bee sting:

  1. Remain calm and move to an area where you are able to treat the sting.
  2. Remove the stinger. Use the edge of your fingernail or a credit card to remove the stinger – do not use tweezers as this will likely squeeze more venom into your bloodstream. This video demonstrates how to remove the stinger. Did you know: The honeybee stinger is barbed at the end and the stinger remains in your skin (along with its internal organs) and the bee dies?
  3. Wash the affected area with some soap and water.
  4. Apply an icepack to the affected area – this is known to reduce the swelling, as well as slow the absorption of venom into your body down.
  5. If needed, visit your local pharmacy for over-the-counter pain medication, or try a few home remedies.

According to Healthline there are a few home remedies you can try:

  • Applying honey to the infected area and covering with a Band-Aid for up to an hour could help heal the wound and reduce itchiness and pain.
  • Applying a thick layer of baking soda paste (by mixing with water) to the area and covering the area with a bandage for about 15 minutes could help reduce swelling, itching and pain. This can be reapplied as needed.
  • It is said that apple cider vinegar helps neutralise bee venom and that by soaking the affected area in a basin filled with apple cider vinegar for at least 15 minutes or soaking a cloth in the apple cider vinegar and applying it directly to the skin, will help the healing process.
  • If you have an aloe vera plant at home, cut a leaf off and squeeze the gel directly to the affected area.

For more herbal remedies, follow this link. Disclaimer: Most home treatments for bee sting symptoms aren’t supported by scientific research.

To reduce your risk of being stung we recommend avoiding a beehive and wearing shoes when walking around outside. Bees are also drawn to sweet smelling fragrances, so avoid wearing a scent that may attract them. The same can be said for sweet smelling food or drinks, it is best to pack food and drinks away, or cover them up. If you are approached by a bee, the best thing to do is remain calm and try to distance yourself from the bee without swatting it away or aggravating it.

Tip: It is very important to know which insect stung/bit you before treating a wound. If you weren’t able to see it, there are ways to identify it by other means.

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