What to Do for a Bee Sting?

About bee sting

Bee sting is a problem that can happen to anyone who is outdoors. In most cases, bee stings are annoying and home treatment is all it takes to relieve the pain. But if you’re allergic to bee stings or get stung many times, you may have a more serious reaction that requires immediate treatment. You can take a few steps to prevent hornet stings as well as normal bees, and learn below how to treat them if you do get stung.

Bee sting symptoms

Bee stings can cause different reactions ranging from temporary pain and discomfort to a severe allergic reaction. Having one type of reaction does not mean that you will always have the same reaction or that the next reaction will necessarily be more severe.

mild reactions

Most of the time bee sting symptoms are minor and include:

  • Sudden, sharp burning pain at the sting
  • Reddening of the sting
  • Slight swelling at the sting site

In most people, the swelling and pain will go away within a few hours.

moderate response

Some people who experience a bee, hornet, or other insect sting have a slightly stronger reaction with symptoms such as:

  • excessive redness
  • Slowly growing swelling in the sting area over the next day or two

Moderate reactions tend to resolve within 5 to 10 days. Having a moderate reaction doesn’t mean you’ll have a severe allergic reaction the next time you get a bee sting. But some people always develop similar mild reactions. If this happens to you, you can talk to your doctor about treatment and prevention, especially if the reaction is getting more severe each time.

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severe allergic reaction

A severe allergic reaction ( anaphylaxis ) to bee stings is potentially life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. A small percentage of people who are stung by a bee or other insect quickly develop anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Hives , itching, and reddened or pale skin
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling of the throat and tongue
  • Weak, rapid heart rate
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of consciousness

People with a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting have a 25% to 65% risk of anaphylaxis the next time they are stung. You can talk to your doctor or an allergist about prevention measures such as immunotherapy to avoid a similar reaction in case of re-stings.

Multiple bee stings

In general, insects such as bees and hornets are not aggressive and sting only to defend themselves. In most cases, people experience it at most once or maybe a few times. In some cases, a person disturbs a hive or a swarm of bees and suffers multiple bee stings. Some bee species, such as African honey bees, are more likely to sting in groups. If more than a dozen bees sting you, the buildup of venom can cause a toxic reaction and make you feel sick.

Multiple bee sting symptoms include:

  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Headache
  • spinning sensation (vertigo)
  • convulsions
  • Fire
  • dizziness or fainting

Multiple bee stings in children, the elderly, and people with heart or breathing problems can be a medical emergency.

When should you see a doctor?

In most cases, bee stings do not require a visit to your doctor. But in more severe cases, you will need emergency care. Even if the bee sting has only one or two symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately if you have a serious reaction suggestive of anaphylaxis.

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It is also useful to see your doctor in the following situations:

  • If the bee sting symptoms do not go away within a few days
  • If you have symptoms other than an allergic reaction to a bee sting

Bee sting diagnosis

If you’ve had a reaction when a bee or hornet stings you, suggesting you may be allergic to bee venom, your doctor may recommend one or both of the following tests:

  • Skin test: During the skin test, a small amount of allergen essence (in this case bee venom) is injected into the upper part of your arm or back. This test is safe and does not cause any serious reactions. If you are allergic to bee stings, your skin will become swollen and swollen at the test site.
  • Blood test: A blood test can measure your immune system’s response to bee venom by measuring the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in your bloodstream. For evidence of sensitivity to possible allergens, the blood is sent to a laboratory for testing.

Skin tests and blood tests are often used together to diagnose insect allergies.

bee sting treatment

For ordinary bee stings that do not cause an allergic reaction, home treatment is sufficient. Multiple stings or an allergic reaction, on the other hand, can be a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.

Emergency treatment for allergic reactions

During an anaphylactic attack, an emergency medical team may perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. In this case, medications can be given, including:

  • epinephrine to reduce your body’s allergic response
  • oxygen to help you breathe
  • Intravenous antihistamines and cortisone to reduce inflammation of your air passages and improve breathing
  • A beta agonist to relieve respiratory symptoms

epinephrine auto injector

If you are allergic to bee stings, your doctor will likely prescribe an emergency epinephrine auto-injector. You will need to have this with you at all times. The autoinjector is a combined syringe and concealed needle that injects a single dose of medication when pressed into your thigh.

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allergy shots

Bee, hornet, or other insect sting is a common cause of anaphylaxis. If you have had a severe reaction to one or more bee stings, you will need to see an allergist for allergy testing and allergy vaccination (immunotherapy). These vaccines, usually given regularly for several years, can reduce or eliminate your allergic response to bee venom.

Remember, your doctor will decide which medicine to take and how.

What is good for a bee sting?

In case of a bee sting, you can follow the recommendations below:

Treatment of minor reactions

For the treatment of minor reactions, you can:

  • If possible, scrape off the needle as soon as possible with your fingernail. Do not try to remove a needle below the surface of the skin. A sting may not be present as only some bees drop their stings. For example, wasps do not leave stings.
  • Wash the sting area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cold compress.

Treatment of moderate reactions

The following steps can help relieve the swelling and itching often associated with major local reactions:

  • Follow the same treatments as for minor reactions (described above).
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, consult your pharmacist as needed.
  • If the bee has stung a leg or arm, lift it up.
  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist and apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to relieve redness, itching, or swelling.
  • If itching or swelling is bothersome, consult your pharmacist or doctor and take an oral antihistamine containing diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine.
  • Avoid scratching the sting area. This will worsen the itching and swelling and increase your risk of infection.

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