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The Buzz on Bee Stings: What You Need to Know

The Buzz on Bee Stings: What You Need to Know
Linda Guerrera

The warm weather naturally makes us want to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. But other creatures love sunny days as much as we do and they can carry some consequences.  

If you have ever been stung by a bee, you know that it’s not a great experience. Besides being extremely painful, a bee sting can be very dangerous. In fact, it can be a life-threatening situation. Reactions can range from mild irritation to severe allergic responses. Knowing how to act promptly and appropriately to a bee sting is crucial for minimizing discomfort and preventing potential complications.  

Before we get into the subject, I will warn you that it may not be a good thing to read an article about bees written by someone with an extreme fear of these stinging creatures. But, hey, it is certainly always a trending topic for me.  

I understand that the world needs bees and you can talk to me all you want about their importance to the planet. Believe me, I get it! But I will be honest...I don’t like bees. At all! 

Like most people, I don’t like insects, but I have an extreme fear of stinging bugs and, in my own defense, rightfully so. Both times that I was stung, I was minding my own business and far from their bee world letting them go about their bee-life. In other words, I let them...bee! (Pun definitely intended).

Understanding Bee Stings

When a bee stings, it injects venom into your body. This venom can have an adverse effect on the body such as pain, swelling, and redness.  

I will tell you that as I write this, I can feel those creepy little insects all over me!  

The first time I was stung, I didn’t see the creep that did it. I was a teenager, working as a cashier in a supermarket. I felt a sharp pain on my neck and I was immobilized for about 2 or 3 seconds. When I could move again, my hands immediately went to my neck, and I could feel my throat begin to swell. Not a lot, but there was definitely an issue. I closed my line and went into the back room. My boss came to me and asked what happened and told me that I needed to get to the hospital.

Thus, beginning my incredibly insane over-the-top fear of bees.

How To Treat A Bee Sting

If you have a bad reaction such as immediate swelling or, even worse, you feel your throat closing, don’t even wait for the rest of the points below, call 911. This is a situation where seconds count! 

If you’re still reading, let’s take a deeper look at bee sting reactions:

  • Mild - some pain, redness and swelling.  
  • Moderate – increased swelling, redness and itching.  
  • Severe – Anaphylaxis is life-threatening.  

If the bee has left a stinger behind, remove it as quickly as you can. The longer the stinger stays in your skin, the more venom it releases into your body! Use a credit card or fingernail to gently scrape the skin to remove the stinger.

1. Treating Mild Bee Stings 

  • Clean the area - Once the stinger is gone, use mild soap and water and don’t scrub!
  • Ice, ice baby – apply a cold compress for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off and repeat.

2. Treating Moderate Bee Sting Reactions 

  • Ibuprofen or naproxen sodium can help relieve pain, but make sure to check the dosage and ask your doctor if you have any health conditions or are taking other medications. 
  • Try an antihistamine or corticosteroid cream or spray for targeted relief.

3. Treating Severe Allergic Reactions 

Although rare, it is important to know the signs of anaphylaxis. Call 911 if any of these symptoms present: 

  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Wheezing 
  • Rapid swelling of the face, lips, or throat 
  • Dizziness 
  • Loss of consciousness 

When To Call 911

If you have a history of severe allergic reactions, call 911 immediately. You should have an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) with you at all times. Remember to always seek professional medical help after using an EpiPen, as it only provides temporary relief.  

Every EpiPen has an expiration date, so if you carry one, make sure that it has not expired. They also have a little window where you can see if the contents have changed color, another indication of an out-of-date EpiPen.

Preventing Bee Stings 

Prevention is the best way to avoid a bee sting.  

  • Avoid approaching hollow trees, shrubs, or hives.  
  • Be very careful around flowering gardens and picnic areas, both are bee havens! 
  • Protect your skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toe shoes. 

When to Consult a Medical Professional 

  • Symptoms that won’t go away - If pain, swelling and itching lasts more than a few days, you may have an infection or a more severe reaction which needs further treatment. 
  • Prior history of severe allergic reactions – Reactions can become worse the more you get stung. If you have had a severe reaction before, consult a medical professional and get that Epi-Pen!

Products That May Help!

 

We all know that being stung by a bee is never fun, but it is extremely important to know that it can actually be deadly. Stay safe by following the preventive measures mentioned above and make sure to call for medical assistance if needed. In case of a bee sting, remember to monitor the effects since a reaction can occur even a week later. Just remember to Bee Safe ;)

 

Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Linda Guerrera

Linda Guerrera

LinkedIn Profile

 

Linda Guerrera has been the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You since 2022. A recipient of the New York State Broadcasters Award for Outstanding Work in Radio, she spent over ...

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