Natural Ways to Treat a Bee Sting
Unless of course, you are allergic to bee stings, they are rarely serious, and will usually clear up within a few days; however, they can be very uncomfortable for the person. Although treatment for them is limited, there are a few natural ways in which you can treat the sting, to relieve the pain, and make them more comfortable and bearable.
Of course, occasionally the sting can become infected or can cause an allergic reaction, and of course, this will require immediate medical attention. If you think that you are suffering from an infection or an allergic reaction, seek medical advice immediately.
So, what does a bee sting look like?
When you get stung by a bee or a wasp, they will inject their venom through their stinger, which then enters into the skin.
Unlike some stingers, the honey bee has a barbed stinger, which cannot be pulled out and remains in the skin with the venom sack attached.
If you experience a normal reaction, which most people do, you will normally only have a localised reaction to the sting, where the skin becomes reddened and painful. You might also notice that the area becomes swollen and even itchy; however, the pain that is felt with a sting will usually disappear within a few hours.
We have discussed that some people do suffer from a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis. Symptoms of this include breathing difficulties, dizziness, and a swollen face or mouth. If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to seek medical attention immediately.
What should you do if you are stung by a bee?
If you have found that you have been stung by a bee, there are a few steps you can take to minimise the reaction that you might have. If you can see the sting still in the skin, try and remove this carefully, before washing the area really well with soap and water. If possible, try and apply a cold compress, or an ice pack to the area for a minimum of ten minutes, which will help relieve some of the swellings that are associated with bee stings.
If you have been stung on a limb, try and elevate the affected area as well, particularly if you have suffered from a lot of swelling. Although, they can be incredibly uncomfortable, try and avoid scratching the area, as this will not only make it worse, but it can also increase the risk of infection. There are some over the counter medicines that can help if it is very bad, including antihistamines, creams, and painkillers.
Should I seek medical attention?
As uncomfortable as they are, they are not normally serious and will clear up by themselves, with home help, and no intervention from a medical professional; however, there are sometimes when this might not be the case, and medical care is needed.
It is important to know when to contact your GP, so it is usually time to seek advice if; you are worried about a bite or sting because it looks or feels unusual; if your symptoms do not start to improve within a few days, or you feel that they are getting worse; if you have been stung or bitten in your mouth, throat, or the area around your eyes; if a large area, that measures around 10cm or more, becomes red and very swollen; there are signs of an infection, such as increasing pain, puss, or swelling and redness that is getting worse; and finally if you have symptoms of a widespread infection, which include a fever, swollen glands and other flu-like symptoms.
There are also times when immediate attention is required as a matter of emergency. We should point out that this is very rare, but should you experience symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, call for an ambulance immediately. These symptoms include; wheezing or difficulty in breathing; a swollen face, mouth or throat; nausea or vomiting; a fast heart rate; dizziness or feeling faint; difficulty in swallowing; and a loss of consciousness.
How can you help relieve a sting?
Ironically, honey can actually help to soothe the symptoms of a bee sting, and help ease the pain, and itching, as well as to promote healing.
This is a great home remedy, that is so easy to do as well. Simply apply a small amount of honey to the affected area, and cover with a loose bandage. You can leave this on the area for up to an hour, and repeat as often as you need.
Baking soda is a really good ingredient that will help to neutralise bee venom, which in turn will help to relieve the symptoms that are associated with the sting, such as pain, itching and swelling.
Make a thick paste with the baking soda, by mixing it with a small amount of water, and apply a thick layer, directly to the affected area. This will then require covering, which can be done loosely with a bandage.
Leave the paste on the affected area for a minimum of fifteen minutes, before removing. This paste can be reapplied as many times as you need in order to keep relief from the irritation.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR:
Apple cider vinegar can work in a similar to the baking soda and will help to neutralise the bee venom. If you can, soak the affected area in a basin containing apple cider vinegar for a minimum of fifteen minutes.
If you cannot physically soak the area, apply a bandage that has been soaked in apple cider vinegar and applies it to the affected site.
This is a little controversial, but it is thought that toothpaste can actually help to relieve some of the symptoms, although no one is exactly sure why this is the case.
There is a belief that some stings are acidic, and an alkaline toothpaste will help to neutralise the sting; however, this will not work on some stings, as not all are acidic.
However; if you are really suffering, everyone has toothpaste at home, and is, therefore, worth a try to see if it provides you with some relief.
Aspirin is often used for pain relief, but using a wet aspirin tablet on a sting can help to reduce pain and swelling.
Mix some aspirin with some water to make a paste, or simply wet an aspirin ticket and place on the site of the sting.
However, a number of studies have been carried out regarding the effectiveness of this, and one study showed that applying aspirin topically to the site of bee or wasp stings actually increased the redness of the sting, and did not help to reduce the swelling or pain compared to using ice alone.
HERBS AND OILS:
There are a number of different herbs as well, which have all shown to have wound healing properties, which could help to relieve some of the symptoms that are associated with a bee sting.
Aloe vera has long been used to treat a number of different skin conditions and is known for its soothing qualities. Squeeze some aloe vera gel onto the affected area as often as required. Calendula cream is a natural antiseptic, and will help to heal the sting and prevent infection. Apply this to the site of the sting, and then cover with a plaster or bandage.
Lavender oil, tea tree oil and witch hazel are all great, natural things to use as well. Lavender oil has anti-inflammatory abilities, reducing the swelling of the site. Simply mix the essential oil with some coconut oil and apply directly to the site of the sting. Tea tree works as an antiseptic and will prevent infection and ease the pain. Again, mix a few drops with some coconut oil and apply to the site of the sting. Finally, witch hazel has long been used on insect bites and stings and is brilliant at reducing inflammation, pain and itching. Simply apply it directly to the skin whenever you need to.
How can you prevent bee stings?
Ideally, not getting stung by bees beats having to find ways to treat them, and relieve the pain that comes with them.
Here are just a few tips that should help you to avoid getting stung in the first place.
AVOID HARSH FRAGRANCES:
Avoid wearing strongly fragranced things – this includes hairspray, lotions and soaps. Bees are attracted to sweet smells, so remember this when you are dealing with children.
AVOID BRIGHT CLOTHING:
Now, we’re not saying that you have to wear just black in the height of summer, but try not to look like a flower patch either. Bees see in the ultraviolet range, so if you are wearing a pattern that would show up under a black light, the likelihood is that bees will be attracted to it.
BE CAREFUL WITH PICNICS:
Make sure you keep all of your food and drinks covered, so bees cannot crawl into them, and then sting unsuspecting picnic goers. Cans of fizzy drinks are particularly notorious for attracting bees.
Bees sting only when they feel threatened, so if a bee lands on you, stay completely still. Instead of physically brushing it off, blow gently on the bee, which will encourage it to move on without scaring it.
MAKE SURE YOU WEAR SHOES:
Like we said, bees will sting when they feel frightened, and if you step on them or near them, it is likely to scare them. Wear shoes when in fields to protect yourself from their stinger. The same can be said for avoiding shorts if you know you are going to an area that is rife with bees.
WEAR A HAT WHEN YOU ARE OUT:
Funnily enough, bees tend to feel more threatened when they are around your hair. This is thought to be because they associate it with animals. It has been proven that they are less likely to sting you if you are wearing a hat.
DON’T DISTURB NESTS:
If you come across a bees nest or a solitary bee for that matter, simply leave it alone. Do not be tempted to spray anything, or throw anything at the nest, particularly large nests, as this will only aggravate them. Ensure your pets and children also stay away from them.
CALL THE PROFESSIONALS:
If you do need to move the bees nest for any reason, contact a local beekeeper to come and do it for you, and in the meantime keep children and pets away from the area.
They will have the knowledge, and the tools to remove the nest, regardless of the size, without causing any unnecessary distress to you or the bees.
DON’T SIT IN PLACES THAT BEES ARE LIKELY TO BE(e):
Avoid sitting, particularly if you are planning on eating or drinking near a refuse bin, as wasps, in particular, will gather there to look for food scraps, and the chance to find some sweet, fizzy drinks.
Avoid sitting near flower beds as well, if you are scared of bees, as this is where they are more likely to be found.
LISTEN TO THEM:
Just like any animal, you can tell a lot about their mood by listening to them. If they sound angry or aggravated, then chances are they are, so keep away.
Like we have said, bees are actually pretty docile most of the time, and will only sting when they feel threatened, so if they sound like they are unhappy for any reason, by not moving away, you are putting yourself at a much higher risk of being stung.