Bee stings are very common, especially for people who enjoy spending time outdoors. For most people they represent a mild nuisance, mostly because of the pain, but for some people, who have severe allergic reactions, bee stings can be fatal.
Those who are not allergic still need to know what to do when a bee sting occurs, so they can alleviate the symptoms quickly and efficiently.
Symptoms of bee stings
Bees have a small stinger at the back of their body, and the stinger is attached to a pouch containing venom. When a bee stings, the stinger pierces the skin and starts injecting the venom, which causes a reaction on the skin.
The symptoms of such reaction include pain, redness around the sting site, swelling and itching. Two things are very important before any remedy is applied. One is to carefully remove the stinger, using sterilized tweezers, a butter knife or even the flat side of a credit card, and the other is to try not to touch or scratch the sting site.
After cleaning and sterilizing the area, it is safe to apply one of the suggested remedies.
Remedies for bee stings
Applying ice is one of the best and safest remedies for bee stings. Ice prevents the venom from spreading and reduces swelling, itching and pain. It is important not to apply the ice directly but to use an ice pack or ice cubes wrapped in a clean cloth. Ice should not be applied for more than 15 minutes.
Meat tenderizer, even though it may sound controversial, is in fact one of the most efficient remedies for bee stings. Meat tenderizer should be mixed with some water to make a paste and applied in a thin layer over the affected area. This works well because meat tenderizer contains compounds that break down the proteins in the venom.
Toothpaste also works great if applied on the sting site, because its alkalinity neutralizes the venom, which in turn relieves the symptoms. Baking soda, mixed with water into a paste, has a similar effect.
Vinegar can be diluted with some water and the mixture can be used to make compresses that alleviate the pain and the itching from the sting bite.
If there is papaya on hand, it can be gently rubbed against the skin. This remedy is effective because of the enzyme called papain, that has the same effect as the meat tenderizer, meaning it breaks down the proteins in the bee venom. People who are allergic to latex should not use papaya as a remedy for bee stings.
Essential oils can also be applied, especially lavender oil and castor oil.