June 01, 2020

Managing a bee sting

Health tips — Managing a bee sting

For most people, a bee sting is an annoyance that can be managed with basic home care. But for others, a serious reaction may occur. Follow these suggestions:

  • Take care of the sting — If a stinger is present, remove it immediately to reduce your exposure to venom. Wash the area with soap and water as soon as possible.
  • Relieve discomfort, itching and swelling — Most minor reactions produce an area of redness and swelling less than 2 inches in diameter, although it can be larger. A cold compress can help reduce discomfort, as can taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. If the sting occurred on an arm or leg, elevate the limb. To relieve itching, apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. If the irritation persists, try an oral antihistamine that contains diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine.
  • Don't scratch — Scratching can worsen itching and swelling and increase your risk of infection.
  • Watch for a severe reaction — Seek emergency help for these warning signs: hives and flushed or pale skin; difficulty breathing; swelling of the throat and tongue; a weak or rapid pulse; nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; dizziness or fainting; and loss of consciousness.
  • Act on multiple stings — Also seek immediate care if you are stung more than a dozen times, as the accumulation of venom may induce a toxic reaction.
  • Inform your doctor of a serious reaction — He or she...