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How to Treat a Bee Sting

For most people, bee stings are harmless annoyances that can happen when the weather is warm. If you do not have severe allergic reactions to bee stings, you can often treat the symptoms at home. Anyone who has severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis, should receive emergency treatment immediately. AFC Urgent Care Methuen can help with the removal of bee stingers or treatment of mild allergic reactions

Symptoms of Bee Stings

In most cases, symptoms that happen after bee stings are mild. They may include sharp pain at the stinger site, swelling, redness, and itching. These symptoms won’t cause any severe complications. More severe symptoms can include hives, severe itching, swelling of the tongue or throat, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness.

Honey bees lose their stinger when they sting humans, but insects such as wasps or hornets don’t. It is possible for them to sting you more than once. When being stung by a honey bee, the first step is to remove the stinger from the skin using your fingernail or the edge of a credit card. 

Treatment Options

Once the stinger has been removed, wash the impacted area with soap and water. Then, apply a cold compress to help reduce the swelling. Patients can take over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or Tylenol to help reduce any pain. Elevate the sting if possible. 

Additionally, taking antihistamines such as Benadryl or Claritin can help reduce all of these symptoms as well, including itching. Calamine lotions or hydrocortisone cream can help with any itching. 

Symptoms should resolve themselves within a day or two of the sting. Avoid itching the sting as much as possible to reduce the risk of infection or making the swelling and pain worse. 

When to See a Doctor

If you do not have a severe allergic reaction to bee stings, you likely will not ever need to see a doctor. If you’ve never been stung before, be sure to look out for the emergency signs that you are allergic. These signs can include:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the throat or tongue
  • A weak pulse
  • Loss of consciousness

If you find yourself with more than ten stings from a wasp, it may be best to visit a medical professional anyway. This can cause a medical emergency in otherwise healthy adults or children. If symptoms do not go away within a few days or you are suffering from additional symptoms, you should seek medical attention.