There’s nothing worse than getting stung by a bee and not being prepared to remedy the situation as fast as possible. The only situation that is arguably worse is having our kids get stung, and we don’t know how to soothe the pain so playtime can start again.
So today, we want to talk all about what happens to the body when you’re stung by a bee, what the typical reactions are and what to do to feel better. Finally, we are going to end with a few tips and tricks to keep from getting stung to try to keep you from needing these remedies often.
There’s a lot of buzz to get through; let’s get started.
What Happens When You’re Stung by a Bee?
Bee stings, or more specifically bee venom, is a common one (affects around 32% of beekeepers), and the reactions can be deadly. Because of this, it’s important to know what happens to your body when you’re stung and what reactions to expect.
If you are stung, you can monitor the different reactions you exhibit to ensure that you know your level of sensitivity to bees.
Different Types of Reactions
For mild reactions associated with bee stings, you can expect to experience:
- Sharp, burning pain that starts immediately after contact with the stinger
- A red bump or welt left behind at the site of the sting
- Slight swelling around the bee sting site
As a general rule of thumb, mild symptoms will alleviate after a few hours, with little intervention or need for remedy.
Moderate reactions include those mild reaction symptoms (and a few extras) and are usually a result of increased sensitivity to bee venom.
This means you could experience heightened symptoms and reactions every time you are stung. The additional symptoms include:
- Intense redness and heat from the sting site and around
- Heavy swelling that grows in size and intensity over the course of a few days
These reactions can last several days, generally about five to ten. You won’t necessarily see worsening symptoms each time you are stung, but expect that if you are stung in the future, you will at least have these symptoms again.
In addition to the lengthening of symptoms, you will likely expect symptoms to get worse over the first few days before they start to subside.
Allergic reactions are not only more severe compared to mild and moderate reactions, but some of the symptoms can be deadly. The best way to determine if you are allergic to bee venom is through an allergy scratch test or blood test from your healthcare provider.
If you are allergic to bee stings, you can expect these symptoms:
- Hives, itching, or red blotches on the skin
- Difficulty breathing, or rapid breathing and wheezing
- Swelling in the throat or on the tongue
- Rapid pulse that is weak and hard to track
- Nausea, diarrhea, and/or vomiting
- Fainting, dizziness, or feelings of lightheadedness
These symptoms are severe and will happen quickly. In addition to this, you have a 10% higher chance of anaphylaxis the next time you’re stung with an allergic reaction to bee venom.
Trouble breathing, loss of consciousness, and similar worrisome symptoms could be a sign of anaphylactic shock. This calls for immediate medical attention.
How To Treat a Bee Sting
There are a few ways you can treat a bee sting, and the treatment methods will vary in intensity depending on the type of reaction you are experiencing.
Before starting any treatments, make sure the area is clear. If the stinger is stuck, you will want to scrape it away (a fingernail or credit card can do the trick). Never pinch the stinger or use tweezers to remove the stinger. This could cause more venom to be injected into your body.
Also, be careful never to try to suck out the venom, as this will be a more direct way of getting the venom transported through your body. You will be working against yourself to feel better.
For Minor Reactions
For minor reactions, typically, the best thing to do is clean the area with soap and water.
Any venom left on the surface of the skin will be washed away, and the sting site will be cleaned and free of leftover bee residues. If there’s a little pain in the area or minor swelling, you can use a baking soda paste or ice pack to alleviate the symptoms.
For Moderate Reactions
Moderate reactions come with more intense swelling and pain. For these, you may want to employ a few OTC medications to help reduce swelling and pain. A standard medicine like ibuprofen or ibuprofen will keep the swelling down and reduce pain.
You may still want to use an ice pack to help keep the heat down around the sting site, but more intervention than this shouldn’t be necessary.
Steroid or antihistamine creams can be used to cover the area to alleviate symptoms as well, but those can prove challenging to keep on and can be wiped away easily before being effective. Additionally, some steroid creams are accessible only with a prescription from your doctor.
For Allergic Reactions
The treatments for allergic reactions will vary depending on the allergic reactions you exhibit. If you experience itching, rashes, or hives, you can use an over-the-counter medicine like an antihistamine to reduce symptoms.
Some OTC options include Benadryl or hydrocortisone cream. However, it’s important to note that Benadryl is not safe for everyone, including children under two.
Allergic reactions can grow in intensity the more you’re stung, which means that you are at a higher risk of anaphylaxis in the future. Because of this, you will want to speak with your healthcare provider to ensure that you have an epinephrine auto-injector, or Epipen, on hand in case of future stings.
Patches Can Help
Getting the venom out of the sting site can be a critical point in alleviating symptoms, and our patches may be able to help. Using a MagicPatch can help remove some of the venom right under the skin fast and help keep swelling to a minimum.
While these patches were created for mosquito bites, the Grid-Relief Technology works well at clearing the skin of the itchy biochemicals and helping kids and adults find the relief they need.
Preventing Bee Stings
Part of keeping sting-free is preventing the issues that lead to bee stings in the first place. These are a few tips and tricks to keep bees at bay.
Hiking is a fun activity for the whole family and a great excuse to get out and enjoy sunny days. But you also run a pretty good risk of running into large beehives if you aren’t careful.
The biggest threat to bees is an intruder in their hive. In fact, bees won’t sting unless they feel an imminent threat. This threat is most felt when there are predators infringing on their hive and queen.
When you’re out on hikes, stick to trails as much as possible and keep an ear out for the vibrations from buzzing bees. Bees won’t build hives close to busy areas, and if you stay away from the buzzing, you won’t accidentally cross the hives’ path.
If you find yourself face to face with a bee on the trails, don’t swat at it. They may smell you as you pass due to your smell, but when they realize you aren’t a flower, they’ll move along.
Swatting at them with your hand or anything you’re carrying will feel threatening to the bees and now puts you at risk of getting stung.
For those with severe allergic reactions, your healthcare provider may suggest immunotherapy. This is a series of allergy shots that you receive that will help to desensitize you to bee venom. This can be effective against a bee allergy but will take about three to five years of shots before a regimen is completed.
An allegory or immunology specialist can help identify if there is a treatment option suitable for your family.
Be Mindful of Your Scent
Bees are attracted to floral scents and fragrances. So, if you plan on spending a lot of time in the great outdoors today, don’t wear scented lotions or heavy perfumes.
Both of these will attract unwanted attention from bees looking for nectar. (Hint: they will also attract mosquitoes and other insects.)
Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are part of a full wellness routine, helping us focus, sleep, and, yes, repel bugs. Oils like citronella, peppermint, and geranium are great options that will keep bees from becoming too interested in you.
The best part? Our BuzzPatch, while created to repel mosquitoes, has the same essential oils that you’ll need to repel bees. Wear a few of these all-natural insect repellent stickers on your clothes to stay hidden from flying pests for eight hours.
Wearing the proper attire for hikes, as well as safeguarding against bee stings, is critical. Light colors versus bright colors reminiscent of flowers are better, as bees are attracted to the colors of flowers as much as their scents.
You can also wear loose-fitting clothing that will make it hard for bees to sting through to avoid a bee landing and causing a fuss.
Bees vs. Hornets & Yellow Jacket Stings
It’s also important to know the differences between hornets and bees so you know what’s flying around. Wasps and hornets are naturally more aggressive, and it won’t take much to agitate them.
Bees are less likely to sting unless thoroughly provoked, so be alert when outside. Note that wasp stings feel similar to those of honeybees in terms of itchiness and pain. However, wasps and hornets can sting more than once.
Keep a cold pack and patches on hand, but when home remedies aren’t enough, a trip to the emergency room visit might be needed.
While we can’t stop everything from happening, the more you know, the more you’re prepared for it.