Late summer and early fall is the height of “angry bee” season. As bees and wasps near the end of their life cycle, they become increasingly aggressive. Being stung by a bee, wasp, hornet, or yellow jacket can be both painful and scary, especially for those who have serious or even life-threatening allergic reactions to bee stings. These folks require quick treatment. Here at AFC Urgent Care New Britain we are seeing a spike in the amount of people walking through our doors with painful stings. Below we talk about how to prevent and treat bee stings.
How to prevent a bee sting
Although preventing a bee sting is not always possible, here are a few tips to help you avoid getting stung:
- Avoid brightly colored and flower print clothing to help keep bees away.
- Avoid fragrances or cosmetics with floral scents.
- Always be careful with food and sweet drinks such as soda. Bees will often fly into the can and sting the drinker when he or she takes a sip. Ouch!
- If you are going into a field where there will likely be bees, wear long pants, long socks and shoes that cover your whole foot.
- Keep garbage in sealed receptacles. When out at a public park or playground, steer clear of open or full garbage bins
- If there are bees around or on you, don’t run and don’t swat at them. Standing still will keep the bees calm and, most likely, they will fly away without causing harm.
- Call a pest professional if you notice a hive or wasps nest on your property.
If you are attacked by several stinging bees at once try to run away from them. According to the CDC bees release a chemical when they sting, which may attract other bees. If you can runaway in time:
- Go indoors
- Go to your car
How to treat a Non-Allergic reaction to a bee sting
- Scrape the stinger out as quickly as possible—do not pull or squeeze the stinger out as that may release more venom.
- Clean with soap and water to prevent infection.
How to reduce pain, itch and swelling
Try any of these highly effective home remedies:
Ice: Ice lessens swelling by constricting vessels and reducing the flow of venom in the blood. An added bonus: the numbing effect soothes pain and itching.
Baking soda: Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply to the sting site. The alkaline nature of the baking soda helps to neutralize the acidity in the venom. You can also mix in some meat tenderizer which contains a naturally occurring enzyme (papain, from papaya) that helps to break down the protein in the venom.
Vinegar: When stung by a wasp, vinegar is the soother of choice. Use this trick to remember: Baking soda for bees (both at the beginning of the alphabet), vinegar for wasps (both at the end of the alphabet).
Toothpaste: Believe it or not, this is a great remedy which works on the same alkaline/acidity premise as baking soda. The presence of small amounts of glycerin in toothpaste may also add to its soothing properties. Also, a small tube of toothpaste is handy to pack in a travel first aid kit or picnic basket.
What not to do if you get stung by a bee
Sometimes we think we have the right intentions, but it can do more harm then good. If you or your child gets stung by a bee avoid doing this:
- Do not scratch the sting as this may increase swelling, itching, and risk of infection.
- Do not use tweezers to take out the stinger otherwise you risk more venom being squeezed out
I just got stung by a bee, and I know I’m allergic. What do I do?
- You, or the allergic person should always carry a bee sting kit that includes a bronchodilator epinephrine shot (Epipen) or inhaler, which will dilate the airways and allow your child to breathe.
- call 911 or bring them in to us as soon as possible. They will need to be treated immediately.
For more information or any questions feel free to give us a call at 860-357-6899 or stop by our New Britain AFC urgent care center where we have professionals available 7 days a week where no appointment is needed.