For some people, there is nothing more terrifying than the buzz of one of the most menacing, stinging bugs known to humankind - the bee. This winged aviator of common, outdoor areas like gardens, pools and picnic tables has been known to strike fear in the hearts of many. Perhaps they are afraid of its vicious sting, so intense, it can even cause death for certain bees after stinging their victim. Maybe people are just afraid of the potential wound left on their body, a bump with a small red dot in the center - the mark of a bee sting victim - that has the potential of growing into a giant, red, swollen disaster. There is also a possibility that they are allergic, and they wish not to suffer from a serious allergic reaction. However, for most people, a bee sting is nothing more than a mild, slightly painful annoyance. Whatever the case may be, here is a quick guide for bee sting treatment.
Recognizing You've Been Stung
You may not have heard the bee, you may not have seen the bee, but you definitely felt that sharp, burning sensation, if only for a moment. Now you feel a dull, throbbing pain in the affected area. Upon inspection, you notice a soft, smooth, white bump on your flesh with a red mark in the center (sometimes, the stinger can still be found on the stung area and requires removal). The affected area can swell up for several hours, but should eventually subside along with the pain. In some cases, the stung person may experience itching at the site of the bee sting.
For those who might suffer a more severe reaction to a bee sting, the following symptoms may appear:
- The affected area can become very red. The more severe the reaction, the redder the area can get. This is also an indication of an infected bee sting.
- The swelling can spread, covering a larger surface area on the skin around the bee sting than a normal bee sting reaction would.
Anaphylactic shock is a possibility for those who are allergic to bees. According to MayoClinic, the following are common symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting:
- A skin reaction in other parts of the body aside from the stung area. These reactions can include hives, itching, and flushed or pale skin.
- The person may have trouble breathing.
- Swelling of the throat and/or tongue.
- An affected pulse rate that might either be too weak or too strong.
- The person may experience dizziness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
- The person may faint or lose consciousness.
MayoClinic also states that only about 3 percent of people who suffer a bee sting go into anaphylactic shock.
Bee Sting Treatment
Depending on the severity of your reaction to a bee sting, proper home care is all that is typically required for treatment. Upon locating the bee sting site, you should:
- Check if the stinger is still lodged in the skin. It can be identified as a small, black dot at the center of the sting site, similar to a small splinter. You'll want to remove the stinger as soon as possible to prevent additional venom from seeping into the skin.
- Clean the affected area with soap and water. You can also use antibacterial cream or ointment to clean the wound.
- Keep an ice pack over the sting site to relieve the burning sensation and reduce swelling.
- An NSAID can be used for pain relief.
In the case of a serious allergic reaction to a bee sting, medical attention should be sought immediately.
Bee Sting Prevention
Here are some useful tips to avoid being stung by a bee:
- Wear proper protective clothing when venturing outdoors, especially if you are allergic to bee stings.
- Always wear shoes when setting foot outdoors to avoid accidentally stepping on a bee.
- Keep the windows closed when driving so you don't accidentally pick up a bee hitchhiker.
- Do not provoke bees by disturbing their hives.
- Call a professional instead of trying to remove a bee hive from your home by yourself.
- Avoid certain outdoor activities that might provoke bees like mowing the lawn or doing your gardening when there is a heavy concentration of bees in the area.
- If a bee is nearby, do not panic. Running and swatting frantically will only provoke a bee to sting you.