A bee sting is unpleasant and hurts. It is particularly dangerous if the person concerned reacts allergically. We outline what to do for a bee sting, and how to tell the difference between a bee and a wasp sting
Bees and wasps are especially active in summer. Sweet perfumes or sunscreens, the scent of food and bright colors attract the insects. If they feel threatened, they sting. That’s their way of defending herself. The sting site usually swells and itches.
In contrast to wasps, bees are not aggressive. Their stings are only a defensive reaction that is fatal for the animal itself. But a bee sting can also have serious consequences for the sting if the person is allergic to bee venom or if there is a bee sting infection. In such cases, medical assistance is necessary. In most cases, however, common home remedies are sufficient and can at least provide relief. We outlines below what to do when stung by a bee. Also read how to remove a hornet in the home and How to protect your home from insects.
Difference between bee and wasp sting
If a spike with a poison bubble is visible in the skin, it is a bee sting. There is a barb on the bee’s spine. He gets stuck in the injection site (see the bee sting picture above). It’s different with a wasp sting. The wasp retains its spine. It can thus sting several times.
What to do for a bee sting: bee sting treatment
- If you are stung by a bee despite all precautions, you must first remove the spike, which is probably still in the skin thanks to its barb. It is best to do this with tweezers, if necessary, the fingernails also do. You should be careful not to crush the poison sac on the spike, otherwise the rest of the poison will pour into the wound.
- Suck the bee venom with a syringe from the injection site to shorten the immune reaction. For this purpose, get a 10 ml disposable plastic syringe from the pharmacy. Cut off the front part and smooth the edge a little. Then place the closed syringe over the bee sting and slowly pull up the stamp. A vacuum is created and the poison can drain out of the injection site.
- Do not suck out the poison with your mouth. Otherwise, it gets into the body even faster via the mucous membranes.
- Then you should cool the sting immediately – preferably with the help of a cooling pack or ice cube. The cold narrows the blood vessels, substances that will trigger itching and pain less. In addition, the swelling decreases.
- Heat can also bring relief: proteins in the bee venom decay from a temperature of about 45 degrees. Hot metal – such as a spoon or a coin – or a cotton ball soaked in hot water can also bring relief. But be careful: Don’t burn yourself. Tip: Heat a spoon and press it on the injection site. The heat destroys the protein in the poison of the bee. Thus, the toxin loses its effect of making the bee sting itchy. This helps against both itching and swelling. However, make sure that the spoon does not get too hot, otherwise you risk burns.
- Do not scratch the sting, otherwise bacteria will get into the wound.
- Raise the affected part of the body. For example, if the bee has stung you into an arm or leg, you can put the body part up to avoid severe bee sting swelling. The elevation reduces the pressure in the blood vessels, which is why less fluid passes into the tissue. Bee stings can still cause massive swelling the following day. Do not confuse this reaction with an allergy. Even an infection usually does not occur so quickly. The local immune system’s immune system’s defense response is enough to almost double the circumference of a hand. It can take a few hours or a few days for the bee sting region to return to normal.
- The skin’s defense reactions are usually harmless and disappear by themselves after three to four days – but if this is not the case, you should see a doctor. For people without allergy, only stitches in the neck and head area can be threatening.
- If the sting is on the neck, mouth or throat, call the emergency doctor. Even without an allergic reaction, swelling at these points can be serious, because severe swelling blocks the airways.
Allergic reaction to a bee sting
Between three to four percent of the population suffer from insect poison allergy. If they are stung by a bee, this triggers an allergic reaction or, in the worst case, an allergic shock (anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock). The symptoms vary depending on the severity of the bee sting reaction.
- Itching (local reaction or whole body)
- severe pain
- hives and fever
- Heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Cardiovascular collapse
- Breathing arrest
Doctors also refer to this an anaphylactic reaction. It occurs in different severity levels.
- Grade 1: Reaction of the entire skin, not only at the injection site, with redness, itching, hives and painful swelling.
- Grade 2: In addition to the skin reaction, nosebleeds, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.
- Grade 3: Further increase from grade 2 with swelling of the larynx, cramping of the bronchial muscles to shock. Blurish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes can also occur.
- Grade 4: Circulatory arrest and respiratory arrest. There is an acute danger to life. A first responder must immediately revive the affected patient with heart pressure massage and breathing donation.
Allergy sufferers can receive an emergency kit from their doctor with medicines (antihistamine, corticosteroid and adrenaline). These alleviate the allergic reaction and stabilize the circulation.
Hyposensitization therapy for insect poison allergy
For many bee poison allergy sufferers, there is the possibility of making a so-called hyposensitization with an allergist. As part of the treatment, the immune system is trained to become accustomed to the bee venom and the goal is to avoid life-threatening allergic reactions to bee stings in the future.
An insect poison allergy can be cured by desensitization (hyposensitization). This treatment lasts three to five years. In hyposensitization, the allergen (bee poison) is administered to the patient at an increasing dose. The goal is to get the body used to the bee venom. In this way, he builds up immunological protection against it. This prevents further allergic reactions.
What to do for a bee sting: bee sting home remedies
In the pharmacy, there are also special insect gels – they have a cooling and decongestant effect on the bee sting. If you cannot access these, The same applies as with most other insect bites when it comes to home remedies.
- The onion is one of the classics among home remedies in many situations and is often used with success as a bee sting remedy. Even with insect bites, the skin is happy about a little juice of a fresh onion, as it has a slightly disinfectant and anti-inflammatory effect. Especially when the home pharmacy is poorly stocked, the onion can help us out of the situation.
- Put a freshly sliced onion on the stitch until the discomfort subsides – this is a tried and tested home remedy. To do this, either drip the juice of the onion onto the wound or rub the stitch with a half of the onion for a few minutes. This has a cooling effect also.
- Aloe vera gel relieves itching. Learn how to Use aloe vera ice-cubes for sunburn and bites
- Plantain leaves have been used for insect bites of all kinds for generations and are ideal if you are stung on the go. They grow practically everywhere in some states, and all you have to do is grind them and dab the plant juice on the bee sting.
- Make yourself a cool wrap with salt water.
- A cold vinegar wrap, which is placed on the injection site, is an old home remedy. It cools and relieves itching. Onions are also often used for the treatment of insect bites.
- Similar to the trick with the onion, the use of lemons after insect bites also works. To calm the wound, simply put a slice of lemon on the stitch.
- You can also cool the area with a curd compress. To do this, fill some curd on a compress, put it on the stitch and wrap it with a cloth. As long as the curd compress is damp, it can stay on the lurch. However, the curd should not dry on the wound.
- Wraps with acidic alumina solution.
- Remove a pack of frozen vegetables from the freezer, wrap it in a tea towel and cool the affected area. At the same time, swelling is reduced. However, direct contact with the ice should be avoided so as not to irritate the skin.
- In principle, you should always have a disinfectant spray from the pharmacy at home. Immediately after the bee sting, the injection site must be thoroughly washed and then disinfected.
- Baking powder: From 1 teaspoon of baking powder and a little water, a paste can be produced relatively easily, which is applied to the affected area and left on for a few minutes before washing it thoroughly. Baking powder helps to neutralize the acidity of the bee venom.
Two unusual approaches are also recommended in many places. On the one hand, honey: The bee product plays an important role in anti-inflammatoryism in many traditional medical cultures. Honey should only be applied indoors – otherwise further insects will be attracted. Rather curious is the recommendation to lubricate toothpaste on the injection site in order to neutralize the poison. There is no scientific evidence of this effect.
How to avoid bee stings
But it is best to avoid a sting from the outset! If you observe a few of these measures, both you and the bee will be spared unnecessary torment.
- For many, there is nothing nicer than walking barefoot and feeling the grass between their toes. However, if you want to avoid bee stings, it is recommended to wear at least light footwear such as flip flops or sandals.
- Sweet, floral scents attract bees, but also other insects – so you’d rather do without perfume in summer.
- Should a bee feel attracted and become intrusive, keep calm and not beat around. Otherwise, the bee feels threatened and stabs.
- Avoid the proximity of hives, as the otherwise peaceful bees protect their dwelling and tend to sting here.
- Always cover drinks and outdoor food so as not to accidentally drink or eat insects! If a bee is swallowed, it panics and can sting in the mouth and throat, which can also cause problems for non-allergics.
- Bees should never be blown away either. Our breath contains CO2, which usually signals to the bees that a thief (bird, badger or bear) threatens the brood or food supplies in the hive.
- Do not use highly perfumed shampoos and hair sprays as well as sunscreens with fragrances.
- Do not wear wide, fluttering dresses. If you work in the garden, you should wear long clothes and gloves.
- Don’t make hasty movements.
When you have to strike
Generally it is better not to kill the bee, which is going to die anyway. However, there is one case in which the bee can no longer be considered and you should think of yourself and your health: when bees get caught in the hair. Then they usually react more aggressively and try to penetrate to the scalp. In this case, it is difficult to calm them down. This usually does not succeed.
Then it is better to hit the bee with your flat hand. It dies on this occasion, but it has not yet managed to penetrate to the scalp and sting there. And the bee would die even after the sting. How to grow bee-friendly plants
What to do for a bee sting: In summary
Most bee stings hurt for a few days, but are harmless. Cooling, antihistamines and various home remedies can alleviate or shorten the symptoms. A visit to the doctor is not necessary with an uncomplicated bee sting. However, if a person reacts allergicly to the poison of a bee, quick help is required in the emergency ambulance of a hospital or by an emergency doctor