As an adult, there is a chance that many years have passed since you have been stung by a bee. Now that the summer is beginning to wind down, you may find yourself attending some fun end of the season outings; such as sunflower field exhibits or apple picking. But beware, there are lots of bees around these places.
So, what do you do if you are accidentally stung by one? While it isn’t a pleasant experience, read on to find out the steps to take if it does happen so that you can minimize the pain and swelling and get back to the activities that you enjoy. For most people, treating a bee sting simply consists of simple first aid measures.
Step #1: Don’t panic and calmly move away from the bee.
Step #2: Time is of the essence. Once you are safely away from the bee, inspect the sting to see if the stinger is still lodged in your skin. If the stinger is still present, use a fingernail, credit card, or similar object to gently scrape it out of the skin. The faster the stinger is removed; the less venom will be deposited.
Step #3: Wash the area with soap and water and pat dry. If it has been more than ten years since your last tetanus booster, you will need to visit your healthcare provider to receive a new one.
Step #4: Apply an ice pack or cold compress to the area for twenty minutes on and twenty minutes off as needed. This will help to minimize the itching and swelling. If you do not have any access to ice, in a pinch you can use a bottled or canned beverage from a refrigerator or vending machine and wrap it in a cloth before applying it to the sting site.
You may also consider taking an oral antihistamine such as loratadine (Claritin) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to help control the itching and swelling. Diphenhydramine causes drowsiness, so be sure not to drive afterwards if you take it.
Additionally, taking Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) as directed will bring the pain level down.
Step #5: Monitor your condition over the next 48 hours. Symptoms generally resolve within a few days. If your condition worsens, visit your healthcare provider for a more thorough evaluation.
If you are known to be allergic to bee stings, you will want to seek immediate medical help. If you have been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector, use it as directed until you can be seen. Take an antihistamine as described above as soon as possible. If signs of a more serious allergic reaction occur, such as hives, abnormal swelling, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, difficulty swallowing or breathing, call 911 without delay.
We hope that you found these steps useful and helpful, and hopefully the bees will steer clear of you. Until the next time, stay safe and bee careful out in that sunflower patch.