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Bee Sting Treatment

Reviewed by Mark Kowalsky, MD
Bee Sting Treatment
The majority of people who have been stung by a bee or a wasp will experience a reaction which is limited to the area of the sting and will develop painful redness on the skin. Pain in the area can last up to a week. Approximately 3% of people will notice an allergic reaction because of the bee sting and this should be dealt with as part of the bee sting treatment.

Bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets can sting several times, as their stingers do not have barbs. The venom is inserted into the skin via the stinger. On the other hand the honey bee’s stinger is barbed and so stays in the skin with the sack of venom still connected.

If you have experienced a sting, check for a black dot in the area where you have been stung. If it can be seen remove it by swiping any plastic debit or credit card or blunt knife over the sting site. As the honey bees sack of venom remains in the skin it can take a bit longer to remove all of the venom. The quicker the stinger is removed the seriousness of the sting is lessened.

Bee sting treatment includes applying ice or cold packs in order to lessen the inflammation. Once the area has been washed with soap and water, application of hydrocortisone cream lessens the severity of the inflammation.

Another bee sting treatment is to make a paste of water and baking soda and apply on the sting area. Meat tenderizer (unseasoned) and water can also be made into a paste. The enzyme present in the tenderizer breaks down the venom.

Antihistamine treatments like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can be taken to ease symptoms experienced and non prescription pain relief can be taken.


If the sting has occurred near or on the nose or in the mouth, even if there has been no evidence of allergies to stings, breathing may be affected due to the occurrence of swelling. Bee sting treatment in these situations is urgent emergency medical attention.

Anaphylaxis is a critical, life threatening allergic reaction and up to 0.8% suffer with this. Anaphylactic reactions are wheezing, breathing difficulties and blood pressure drops which can lead to shock if not treated quickly. These symptoms can appear within minutes after being stung. In the U.S. approximately 50 people per year die as a result of serious anaphylactic reactions. People who suffer from these extremely serious symptoms should discuss with their doctor about carrying epinephrine which is drug that is injected and is used to treat anaphylactic reactions. This should be carried at all times.

A systemic allergic reaction affects the whole body and hives, redness or swellings in areas which are not near the site of the sting can appear. Other indications are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. 

If you have a history of serious reactions to bee stings or experience any other severe symptoms, contact the emergency medical services for bee sting treatment.

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