It is a known fact that bee stings are painful and can be deadly, but this depends if the individual stung is allergic to the bee venom. As a first aid measure, the best way to minimize any reaction to the bee venom is to immediately remove the stinger. In case the individual has an allergic reaction to a bee sting in the past, there is a possibility for anaphylaxis to develop which is a life-threatening reaction.
As for wasps and hornets, their venom can result to anaphylaxis to those who are allergic to bee venom. The treatment for stings of wasps and hornets is the same for bees, the only difference is that wasps and hornets do not leave their stingers behind and they usually sting several times.
Treating a bee sting
If you or a family member is stung by a bee, there are first aid steps that must be carried out in order to prevent the reaction for worsening.
- Safety should be the first priority. You have to move the individual away as fast as possible from the bees since they will surely sting you if you are still around once more bees will arrive.
- The bee stingers should be removed right away. If the bee stingers are not removed immediately, it can lead to a severe reaction or worsen the allergic reaction.
- In case the individual is allergic to bee venom, check if an EpiPen is available. If available, administer the EpiPen right away. In case the individual does not have one, call emergency assistance right away. Observe closely for signs of anaphylaxis such as redness, itchiness, hives and shortness of breath.
- Individuals who are not allergic to bee venom will develop local reactions which include redness, pain and swelling at the site of the bee sting. The pain typically goes away but the swelling can last for more than a day. An ice pack should be applied at the site to minimize the swelling.
- If an individual was sting more than 10 times or there are stings inside the nose, mouth or throat, immediately bring the individual to the emergency department at the nearest hospital. The allergic reaction can lead to the constriction of the airways, thus it is a life-threatening condition.
- Over-the-counter pain medications can be given for temporary pain relief. An ice pack can also be used to minimize the swelling. Always place a towel between the ice pack and the skin in order to prevent frostbite. Do not forget that the ice applied should not stay longer than 20 minutes.
Even though it is standard practice to scrape the stinger of a bee from the skin in order to prevent introducing more venom, what matters most is how fast you can remove the stinger from the skin.