Bee Stings: Everything You Need to Know!
Bees are not only known for their honey, but for their painful stings as well. As sweet as the name may sound, an upset bee will sting you with all it has. Eventually, the bee also dies after stinging when its stringer breaks into the skin and is ripped off their body.
Typically, a sting might annoy you with a little temporary swelling, pain, itch, and redness at the infected area. But if you are allergic to bees or suffer multiple stings, things can get severe and problematic.
When a honeybee stings you, it leaves behind its stringer embedded in your skin which contains a toxin, if you are allergic to that toxin you will suffer severe symptoms. The toxin contains proteins that infect skin cells and immune system.
Bee Sting Symptoms
Symptoms of bee stings may vary from mild to extreme reactions, according to the nature and quantity of stings. These stings can produce a different reaction; some may experience mild pain, while others may suffer a severe allergic reaction.
- Mild reaction – Most reactions from a bee sting will be mild and symptoms will include a burning feeling at the site of the sting, slight swelling and a red welt. For most of the people the symptoms will last only for few hours.
- Moderate reaction – Some people might develop moderate symptoms that include extreme redness and swelling, which enlarges for a day or two. A moderate reaction lasts up to 5 to 10 day. If you develop these symptoms each time you suffer a sting, then consulting a doctor is advisable.
- Severe allergic reaction – Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction caused by a bee sting. It can, at times, be life-threatening and require immediate medical treatment. In rare cases, people suffering from a bee sting develop severe symptoms including hives, itchy skin, pale skin, fainting, a weak heartbeat, swelling of tongue and throat, difficulty in breathing, nausea, and diarrhea.
People with allergies to bee stings may be advised to get immunotherapy to avoid these reactions. Or, your Doctor may prescribe an Epinephrine Kits at home. These kits provide an auto-injector for you to inject yourself in the event of a bee sting. Having a kit at home can be the difference between life and death for someone who has a severe reaction to getting stung.
Multiple Bee Stings
Usually, bees sting in self-defense. If a person disrupts a hive or a swarm of bees, he will likely end up with multiple bee stings, especially if they’re African honeybees. African honeybees are an invasive species that are slowly taking over the United States. They are widely known for their aggressiveness and attacking in swarms. Thankfully, we’re not seeing them in our climate at this point!
Symptoms of multiple bee stings include a severe headache, nausea, vomiting, high temperature, convulsions, vertigo, and fainting. Multiple bee stings require an emergency treatment, as they can cause serious complications in children and adults with heart and breathing problems.
Bee Sting Home Remedies
If your reaction is mild, you may not need to visit a doctor. Home remedies will ease your pain and treat other symptoms, as well. The first thing you’ll want to do is carefully remove the stinger with tweezers or something similar. Don’t squeeze the stinger, as it can cause more venom to be released. After the stinger is clear and you’ve washed with an antibiotic soap, you’ll want to relieve the pain.
Following are the remedies that are mostly used to counter the reaction of a honeybee’s sting:
- Toothpaste – A quick remedy is to apply toothpaste on the affected area as soon as possible. It is believed that the alkaline nature of the paste neutralizes the acidic bee-venom and relieves the patient.
- Papain is an enzyme which is believed to breakdown the protein of the venom that causes pain and itchiness. Make a solution of one part papain and three parts water and apply on the sting area for 30 minutes.
- Baking Soda – Apply a paste of baking soda to the area. This will relieve the pain, swelling and itchiness by neutralizing the venom.
- Honey from the culprit itself will help relive the symptoms. Apply a decent quantity of honey and wrap in a loose bandage.
- Apple cidar vinegar helps neutralizing the bee venom. Soak a cloth in vinegar and apply at the sting point for about 15 minutes.
- Herbs and oils such as aloe vera, natural oils, witch hazel and many others are known for their pain and swelling relieving nature. Dab few drops of one of these on the affected area and dab for few minutes, you will forget about the pain.
Medical Treatment for Bee Stings
If the reaction is severe then you are strictly advised to consult a doctor because as discussed earlier, a severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening. A mild reaction doesn’t need medical help, but a multiple sting and a severe reaction are considered as an emergency which require an immediate medical aid.
A medical team may even perform CPR if you stop breathing as result of an anaphylactic reaction. You may be given following medications:
- Epinephrine, to reduce the allergic response of your body. If you are allergic to bee sting then medical experts recommend keeping an epinephrine auto injector with you all the time, in case of emergency situations.
- Oxygen, to help you breathe.
- A beta agonist, to help you counter breathing problems.
- Intravenous antihistamines and cortisone, these medicines will reduce the inflammation of your air passages, so you can breathe properly.
If you ever experienced a severe or multiple sting reaction, then a physician might recommend you to get allergy shots. These shots are generally given regularly for few years and are known to eliminate allergic response to bee venom.
How to Avoid Getting a Bee Sting
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; therefore it is wise to take necessary steps to avoid any such condition. If you live in an area where you have to face honeybees then you should:
- Get the hives near your homes removed by a professional
- Don’t wear bright colored and loose clothes
- Stay calm while walking past through bees
- Wear close-toed shoes
- If it appears that you have a swarm or collection of hives, contact your local government to see about removal.
Following above mentioned advises is important, as it is better to be proactive than to be reactive!
Fine Print: We’re not Doctors, so always check with professionals on the proper treatment of bee stings. We’re just trying to put some commonly known information out there. And of course, you can call us BEFORE you get stung if you see a bee infestation. Of course, if you have a large property, you may even wish to start beekeeping!