How to Identify and Treat Common Bee Stings at Home

May 7th 2016

Quick treatment of a bee sting can help reduce the pain. Most stings can be treated at home, but if you see signs of allergic reaction, including hives, difficulty breathing, dizziness or nausea, contact a medical professional at once.

Identifying a Bee Sting

One of the easiest ways to identify a true bee sting is to look for the stinger. Bees have a barbed stinger that tears off and remains lodged in the victim, which also kills the bee. It is small and can be difficult to see, but it should appear as a black spot in the center of the injury. If there is no stinger, it was most likely a wasp or hornet that stung you. The stings have similar symptoms otherwise, with redness, swelling and pain occurring shortly after the sting.

It is important to remove the stinger as soon as possible. This limits the spread of venom and prevents infection. Sometimes simply washing the area is enough, but you can also use tweezers to remove the stingers. You can also brush a hard surface, such as the edge of a credit card, over the area to pull it out.


One of the simplest and most effective remedies for a bee sting is applying ice to the affected area. Use a towel or other thin cloth between the ice and skin, and apply for no more than 20 minutes at a time to prevent damage from the cold. However, this easy remedy prevents swelling and numbs your pain.


After you are done applying ice, consider applying toothpaste directly to the bite. There may be a few reasons why this works, including glycerin neutralizing the venom or the minty, cooling sensation replacing the itch and pain associated with bee stings. Wash it off and reapply when your symptoms come back. This remedy may be effective for up to five hours.

Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar

These two ingredients can both provide relief on their own, but mixing them together into a paste may be more effective. Bee venom is acidic, and the mixture neutralizes it. The vinegar may sting for a moment when you first apply it, but that should subside.


Although it can get messy, honey can also relieve the pain and itchiness caused by bee stings. The sticky sensation can also prevent you from scratching and further irritating the skin, and honey has antiseptic properties that can help prevent infection.


Outdoor activities bring the possibility of bee stings with them. Although honeybees are not aggressive and bee stings are fairly rare for most people, they can occur unpredictably. Understanding how to recognize and treat a bee sting can minimize the pain and swelling you experience if you do get stung.

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