How to Treat a Bee Sting at Home?
A bee sting causes a skin reaction in most people. Usually, it is a swollen, painful bump on the area of the sting. However, some people may develop an allergic reaction after being stung. In case of an allergy to stinging insects, the swelling can affect other areas of the skin or multiple parts of the body. While an allergic reaction to a bee sting requires an immediate medical help, non-allergic stings can be easily treated at home.
The first thing you should do is check whether the bee’s stinger is still in your skin. When stinging, honey bees leave their stinger behind, which is why they can only sting once. In order to prevent further irritation, you should remove the stinger and the venom sac from the skin.
To remove it, experts recommend wiping the affected area using a gauze or scraping the sting with a fingernail. Squeezing the stinger is not the right method.
Normally, the symptoms caused by a bee sting disappear within a few days without any treatment. But there are various home remedies that can help to reduce the pain, swelling and discomfort induced by the sting and make the healing process faster.
Below, we will discuss several natural treatments you can use to treat bee stings.
If you get a bee sting, you should wash and disinfect the affected area immediately and remove the bee venom. Then, you can reduce the pain and swelling by applying ice to your skin.
To do so, wrap an ice pack or a bag of ice in a cloth and place it on the area of the sting. Hold the ice in place for a few minutes and repeat when needed.
Make sure you protect the skin from direct contact with ice. Always use ice covered in a cloth, otherwise, your skin may be damaged.
#2: Aloe Vera Gel
A gel found in the aloe vera plant can naturally soothe and moisturize the skin. Aloe vera was found to provide anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Apply a little bit of aloe vera gel onto a bee sting to reduce the swelling and protect the area from infections.
You can find aloe vera gel in many drug stores or order it online.
#3: Essential Oils
Certain essential oils have long been used in home remedies, due to their antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. These oils include: tea tree oil, lavender oil, witch hazel, rosemary oil, and thyme oil.
However, there is still little scientific evidence showing that the essential oils can reduce the symptoms of a bee sting.
If you want to try an essential oil, make sure to mix it with a neutral carrier oil, e.g. olive oil. Use one drop of the essential drop and four to five drops of the carrier oil.
Remember that essential oils may cause allergic reactions in some people.
#4: Calamine Lotion
Calamine lotion is often used to reduce itchiness. Some people say that it helps to relive pain and itching caused by stinging insects.
In case you experience itching on the area of the sting, you can try using a calamine lotion. You can buy this product in many health stores.
Honey can provide many medicinal benefits. Thus, anti-inflammatory properties of honey can help to relieve swelling, while its antibacterial agents can prevent infection and help to heal faster.
In fact, honey extracts are sometimes used by medical professionals to treat wounds.
Applying a small amount of honey onto the sting can help to reduce the symptoms. Make sure to do this indoors, as the smell may attract more bees.
Some people use alkaline toothpaste to neutralize the venom in the bee sting. To do so, one needs to apply a small amount of the toothpaste onto the area of the sting. However, clinical research is needed to determine if this method works.
If you want to give it a try, be careful, as the skin may react to a contact with toothpaste, especially a prolonged contact.
If you notice any abnormal reactions, make sure to rinse the toothpaste off.
#7: Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also considered to be helpful in treating bee stings. Thus, some people suggest that it can reduce the swelling caused by the sting. However, there is a lack of clinical research supporting this theory.
Use caution when dealing with apple cider vinegar, because the incorrect use may cause damage to the skin.
#8: Baking Soda
According to some people, baking soda can help to neutralize bee venom. However, there is a lack of reliable evidence suggesting that baking soda can treat a bee sting.
Besides, baking soda is a very alkaline substance, which is why it can damage the skin. Therefore, experts don’t recommend this home treatment.
Which Medical Treatments Can You Use?
If home remedies don’t seem to do the job, you can try to reduce your bee sting symptoms using over-the-counter topical or oral medications.
Thus, a hydrocortisone cream can help to relieve itching, swelling, itching, redness, and pain caused by a bee sting.
Itchiness and redness can also be reduced by oral antihistamines. If you want to get rid of pain and swelling, you can try pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
In case of a severe allergic reaction, you may need an immediate epinephrine injection.
Epinephrine (adrenaline) is a chemical that helps to narrow the blood vessels and open airways in the lungs. If you have a history of anaphylaxis, your doctor may recommend that you always carry an epinephrine auto-injector (e.g. EpiPen) with you.
When Should You Contact a Doctor?
An allergic reaction to a bee sting may turn out severe, leading to an anaphylactic shock. This is a life-threatening condition that requires an immediate medical attention.
The symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting may include: hives, swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat, tachycardia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, severe itchiness, dizziness, fainting, and trouble breathing.
Multiple bee stings may also cause a serious reaction. While honey bees leave their stingers behind, other stinging insects can sting several times. Those include: yellow jackets, wasps, hornets, and others, and each of their stings contains venom.
The Bottom Line
Usually, single bee stings don’t cause severe reactions.
The symptoms can often be easily reduced by home remedies like ice, honey, aloe vera, or calamine lotion. You can also try over-the-counter medications.
However, some people may develop serious and even life-threatening allergic reactions to bee stings. If you notice any symptoms of anaphylaxis, seek for medical attention immediately.