Home Health General Health How to treat bee stings, yellow jacket stings, and hornet stings

How to treat bee stings, yellow jacket stings, and hornet stings

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Painful bee stings, yellowjacket stings, or hornet stings need to be treated quickly and correctly to help keep the pain and swelling to a minimum. There are many simple home remedies for insect stings that will speed up recovery time and quickly lessen the overall pain. It is also important to recognize the symptoms of a major bee allergy and how to react to one. Knowing what types of allergy products to use and what types of allergy supplies to keep on hand in case of serious bee, wasp, or hornet stings is a necessity.

1. If stung by bees, they will leave the stinger in the wound and it must be removed quickly to keep more of the toxic bee venom from being pumped into your flesh. Each bee can only sting once as their stinger is barbed and is ripped out of their body along with the venom sack and attached muscles when they sting. It does no good to kill the bees after they have stung you as the act of stinging alone kills them. Remove the stingers by rubbing the wound with the edge of a credit card or a dull butter knife if possible. Because the venom sacks will still be on the stingers and will probably still be pumping, it is important to not squeeze them by using tweezers or the fingers during removal and to remove them quickly. If the sting site has a small black spot in it, that is the stinger that needs to be removed. Wasps such as hornets and yellowjackets do not lose their stingers and can sting repeatedly.

2. For wasps stings and after scraping the bee stings, apply ice or cold compresses to the wounds. Do not place the ice directly on the skin, wrap it in cloth or place it in a plastic bag to be held against the skin. Bags of frozen foods can also be used as an allergy treatment. The cold will slow the spread of the toxins and help to keep the swelling down. Apply the ice or cold compresses for some 20 minutes.

3. Watch for signs of a severe allergic reaction such as nausea, vomiting, and especially difficulty with breathing. If any of these signs are noticed get the sting victim to a doctor as soon as possible. People with a severe bee allergy can die from the stings in as little as 20 minutes usually from not being able to breathe due to throat swelling. If you are alone and start having an allergic bee sting reaction or you cannot get the victim to a doctor within 15 minutes, call 911. People with known bee allergies should have a syringe of ephinephrine available for immediate treatment and should wear a medical alert bracelet.

4. Take an anti-histamine such as Benadryl to counteract the body's reaction to the stings. Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, and Aspirin can be taken to fight the swelling and pain. Don't take more than the recommended dosages of pain killers and don't use more than one at a time as they can react with each other and have deadly consequences. If you are already on any prescription drugs check with your doctor before starting any new medications.

5. Wash the areas of the stings with soap and cold water and pat them dry. Apply topical pain killers such as hydrocortisone creams, calamine lotions, or analgesic creams. If none of these are available look to the kitchen for other treatments for insect stings. Some of the best home made treatments for wasp and bee stings include:

A. Meat tenderizer mixed with water to make a paste or 1 tablespoon of meat tenderizer added to a quarter cup of water to make a solution will ease the pain. Apply the paste to the sting or dab the solution onto the area and rub it in for a few seconds.

B. A baking soda and water paste or toothpaste applied to the stings will help draw out the poison.

C. Vinegar will help ease the swelling and draw out the poisons. Apply a few drops to each sting.

D. Cut an onion and rub the cut surface over the sting. It will sting more for a moment, but if held to the wound for about a minute or two, this will bring down the pain and swelling.

E. Mix lemon juice with an equal amount of alcohol and dab some on each sting. Again this will hurt at first but it will help greatly in the long run.

6. The bee sting areas will stay sore and swollen for two to five days and may itch as the healing process starts. If the wounds begin to weep or stay badly swollen for longer than a week, seek medical attention as they could be infected and antibiotics may be necessary.

7. The best way to deal with bee and wasp stings is prevention. Watch for areas where bees and wasps like to build nests, to find and destroy them before they get too large. Over hanging eves, old sheds, tree stumps, and behind vinyl siding are all areas to keep a watch on, for the coming and going of bees and wasps. Do not try to destroy large dangerous nests yourself, instead call professional exterminators. Bee extermination may not always be necessary as sometimes bee keepers will happily come and remove bee hives to get new queens. Hornets build large paper nests usually hanging from branches or under the roofs of structures. Yellow jackets tend to form large underground nests near old stumps or building foundations. They are very aggresive and will attack in large numbers. Teach your children about bees and wasps and to respect their space. Remember, bees and wasps are nature's gardeners as without them many plants, including those in your vegetable garden, would never be able to make their delicious fruits.

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