Bee Sting First Aid

Here are some simple and quick first aid steps you can take for bee stings.  This site has a separate page for bee stings and dogs.

Please note:
if symptoms or reactions begin to look serious or if you have concerns, seek medical attention, especially in the case of children or stings close to the eye, inside the nose or ear.

Steps For Treating Bee Stings

1. Remove the stinger if present

Have you been stung by a honey bee, or a different bee species?  

Only the females of the honey bees can sting, but rather than having a smooth sting as is the case with other bees and wasps, the stingers of honey bees are hooked. For this reason, when a honey bee stings, part of the stinger may remain in the skin and is visible to the eye.

In this scenario, first scrape the sting away using a clean, blunt implement, such as the edge of a ruler. Obviously, do not use a sharp item that may cause you to cut yourself.

If you do not remove the sting, it may continue to pump venom.

If there is pain and blood, it may be that you have been bitten, perhaps by a horse fly, for example.

2. Soothe the sting

Bee stings can hurt. Applying an ice cube or ice pack can help reduce the pain and swelling.

You may also wish to apply Calamine lotion if it is suitable for you.

3. Treatments

There are many treatments available over the counter from your local chemist.  Please speak to your local chemist to find one suitable for you.  Possible medications may include

  • A pain killer such as Aspirin or Paracetamol if they are suitable for you. In the case of children, be careful to ensure it is appropriate and that the child is not underage.  Check dosage and instructions on and within the packaging, and if necessary, consult a pharmacist for advice.
  • Antihistamines can help a great deal if you are able to take them, but some sources propose that reactions to antihistamines can be worse than the reaction to a bee sting. If in doubt, consult a relevant health care professional.

If your symptoms are not severe, you may wish to try a home remedy.

4. Reactions to bee stings

In the case of more serious reactions, seek medical advice immediately. In rare cases, anaphylactic shock may occur.

More serious sting reactions could include nausea, vomiting, palpitations, faintness, and abdominal pains.

Further resources: treating an infected bee sting.

Remember: Prevention is better than cure!

A number of natural insect repellents are available to prevent stings occurring, from wrist bands and lotions to citronella sticks for outdoor use. 

Please see my general advice about preventing stings.

If you kill wasps you may only attract more of them.

Read about:

Preventing Wasp Stings

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