Treating Bee Stings at Home

Treating bee stings immediately is imperative, especially if you’ve got multiple stings. If you are highly allergic to them, ensure that your doctor provides you a prescription for an epinephrine-pen, (epi-pen) which could save your life.

Otherwise, there’s no need to panic, but you will need to get inside and get something on the area that’s soothing as soon as possible.

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Symptoms of bee stings include pain, redness, and swelling. If you’ve been stung numerous times, you may also notice a red streaking as the venom moves through your blood stream. If the streak moves close to your heart, you will need to seek immediate professional attention.

The only kind of bee that leaves its stinger behind is the honeybee. Since their existence is threatened by the vast amount of pesticides and herbicides in use today (Thanks Monsanto!), try not to kill them if possible.

Hornets and wasps can and will sting you if provoked so leave them alone unless they are in your way. The only kind of wasp that is extremely aggressive and will avidly pursue you is the yellow jacket. If you threaten their nest, they will come after you with a vengeance and can sting you multiple times faster than you can fathom. If you want to get rid of their nest, do so at night when they’re resting in their nest. Get more tips on how to get rid of wasps here.

*Note – If you notice hives on your porch or other areas that are used frequently by your family, check furniture thoroughly beforehand. Recently, I got ready to move a bench on the front porch but noticed bees flying around. I carefully checked the wood and sure enough, they’d built a nest on the back of the bench. I was cautious because last year I got stung over 25 times when I was cutting back brush in my yard and stuck my hand right into a nest of yellow jackets. They stung me so fast that I had no defense. It was pretty darn bad!

If you're not allergic to bee stings, there's no threat of going into anaphylactic shock, treating bee stings at home is relatively uncomplicated. After all, all stings are treated the same way regardless of the kind of bee. However, there are still some other things you need to consider!

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Before Treating Bee Stings

  • If you’ve been stung by a honeybee, you need to remove the stinger quickly. Use a credit card or business card and scrape over the area to help get it out. Or use a magnifying glass with tweezers to grab and release it from your skin. That is, if you can actually see it.

  • If you’ve got stings on the hand or wrist, be sure to remove jewelry, since swelling is bound to get worse. If jewelry is left in place, swelling can cut off circulation to fingers.

  • Elevate arms or legs if possible to keep the area above your heart.

  • Apply ice packs to the skin to help reduce swelling and inflammation. Use a gel pack if you have one and if not, use ice cubes in a gallon-sized plastic food bag. I like to put my ice packs in a thin plastic grocery store bag. That way the cold gets to my skin quickly and there’s little chance of freezer burn. You can make your own ice pack by combining two parts water to one part rubbing alcohol and freeze. Alternately, you can soak the area in ice water if it’s too painful to keep ice on it.

  • Take Benedryl immediately. The liquid version is fastest acting. The pills will work but take longer to get into your system. Either way, you need to always have Benedryl on hand ICE! (In Case of Emergency). An antihistamine is so important to reduce symptoms.

  • Take an analgesic like ibuprofen as well to help ease the pain.

  • Never squeeze an active sting. This may send more venom into your blood stream and makes matters worse, not better.

    yellow jacket image

    Treating Bee Stings at Home

  • Staying calm is hard to do when you're in a lot of pain, but its a must-have! When you're upset, your heart rate increases as well as your circulation, which only speeds up the flow of venom. The best advice is to kick back and watch a little television while you ice.

  • If you aren't against having an alcoholic drink, take a shot of liquor to help you relax and ease the pain. I like to keep some honey liquor on hand, just in case!

  • Use wet tobacco – Chew a small amount of tobacco (any kind is OK but organic/natural is best) and place on the sting. Wrap the area loosely with gauze to help draw out the venom.

  • PRID is a plant-based drawing salve you can purchase online or at a local health food store. It’s a great way of treating bee stings.

  • Use Caladryl or Calamine lotion to calm the skin. The active ingredients in Caladryl lotion are calamine, pramoxine HCI, (hydrochloride) and camphor. Calamine is a mixture of zinc oxide and iron oxide. It's up to you which kind you use when you're treating bee stings.

  • Use aloe vera gel with camphor. You’ll recognize it quickly because it’s the only kind that’s blue, instead of green. Keep it in the refrigerator to help soothe irritated lesions.

  • Vinegar has a wide variety of uses and treating bee stings is among them! Use the white or apple cider variety on a cotton ball and rub into the skin to help change the pH.

  • If you only have one or two stings, you can make a paste of baking soda, *meat tenderizer, and water to apply to the bee sting. You will need to cover the area with gauze to ensure that it doesn’t get all over the place.

    *If you don't have meat tenderizer, the baking soda and water should do just as well.

  • Use hydrocortisone cream (Cortisone10) or an analgesic cream such as Benedryl cream to help reduce inflammation. Remember that buying the generic brands will save you big bucks!

  • Try using plain toothpaste! Some people swear that toothpaste treats most all kind of bumps! You’ll need to find an actual toothpaste though. (Not a gel or whitening version).

  • Take a cool oatmeal or epsom salts bath to help draw out the venom and reduce swelling.

    There's no doubt that bees are sneaky but there's also no way to predict when you'll get stung. Paying attention to your surroundings is essential.

    The faster you are at treating bee stings, the fewer symptoms you'll have! However, expect that you'll have some swelling and pain for at least a couple of days until your body can safely remove the toxins.

    Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.

    Related Pages on This Site

    Natural Bug Bite Remedies and OTC Medications

    Eating Bugs as Food – Could Insects be Your Next Major Source of Protein?

    5 Edible Weeds You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

    The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

    Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth – An Essential Multipurpose Product

    Epsom Salts – Wellness and Goodness in a Milk Carton

    A Low Salt Diet – The Greatest Health Risk Today

    How to Stay Healthy and Save Your Life!


    Whats the Difference Between Calamine and Caladryl?

    Why Are Bee Stings Dangerous?

    Which Bees Leave Their Stingers in the Skin?

    First-aid Treatment of Stings

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