By: Carolyn Jones
Maybe you’re out for a stroll in the park, or playing water balloons with the kids across the street, or possibly in the middle of an intense soccer game, and then it hits. A pinch on your skin and you know, you’ve been stung by a bee. The first thing we all think about is what to do for a bee sting. We all know about the “bee sting” that every kid was once afraid of and every parent worries about while out in the sun with their youngsters, but do we really know everything? The truth is there is a lot about a bee sting the average person does not know, but not for long, you are at the site to help you find out all the answers to your stinging questions. So get bzzzzzzzzy reading about what to do for a bee sting.
Understanding Bee Stings:
First we must cover some basics, what is a bee sting? A bee is important to the environment and affects all life around us. Bee’s main job is to pollinate flowers, fruits, and vegetables, according to the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois. Many of these crops exist in our lives in the food we eat or the plants we grow. The two main reasons bee’s sting is predation and defense. Without realizing you may step on a bee and chances are they will inject their stinger into your foot believing you are trying to hurt them. Other times, when someone gets too close to a bee, their first instinct is to use their one source of protection to fight back. Like we use our hands and legs for protection against something trying to hurt us, a bee uses its stinger to protect itself from any threat.
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Different Types of Bees:
Just like the many different types of dogs, there are also several different species of bees. While there are over 20,000 different types of bees, some of the most common stinging bees are the honeybee, the bumblebee, the carpenter bee, and the killer bee.
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The honeybee is essential to the environment because like their name hints, this bee produces honey from the plants they pollinate. Along with the yellow jacket, it makes up for 95% of bee stings around the world. However, the honeybees can sting a predator one time before the stinger is ripped off and can never be used again. If the stinger is not removed from the area soon after the initial puncture, the results can be exceedingly uncomfortable. Allergies to bee’s stings also tend to be more serious with honeybee stings, so extra caution in the following days is encouraged.
Another common type of bee is the bumblebee, a social bee that lives in large groups and pollinates crops and plants. Contrasting to the honeybee, these small pests can sting multiple times. Their stingers are smooth and do not get trapped in the prey after the bee stings. These bees are not the type to mess with, especially around their nests, which are greatly protected. If you are caught poking around their home, the bumblebee is known to hunt down any intruders and travel long distances to reach them. The bumblebee is also one of the most painful stings known and can cause swelling and irritation for many days following the sting.
Similar to the bumblebee, the carpenter bee can also sting many times. This solitary bee retrieved its name because of its capability to drill holes in wood. However, the male bee cannot sting, leaving the female to do the painful task. While the male carpenter bee, known because of his yellow face, cannot sting, he may chase after you if caught bothering his nest.
Another bee found in South Africa and South Western parts of the United States is known as a killer bee. While the name is more threatening then the actual venom the bees contain, they often attack aggressively and in groups increasing the risk of allergic reactions. These bees, like honey bees, have a jagged stinger that gets caught in the skin after a sting, allowing it to use this mechanism of defense once.
While knowing about different species of bees cannot stop you from getting stung, it will increase your chances of preparedness and knowledge needed if ever put in a situation with a stinging nuisance. For more information on different types of bees visit Pest World.
What To Do For A Bee Sting
Now the question everyone has been dying to know, which is what to do for a bee sting? There are a few simple steps to take to eliminate any risks of danger and turn a painful experience into a stress free incident. Here is a complete and helpful guide on what to do when stung by a bee with the help of Kids Health.
1.) When you are wondering what to do for a bee sting the most important thing to keep in mind after a bee sting is to stay calm. Adding stress to the event can cause unnecessary panic and a huge distraction to the well being of the victim. If you or someone else is stung by a bee, take a deep breath and relax. After reading this page you will be completely informed on how to handle a bee sting and you can remind yourself and others you are available to help in any possible event. If you are a child, tell your parents or a trusted adult immediately so they can fully help you safely respond to the bee sting. If you are an adult this step is essential for you to remind a child to remain calm and not worry about the bee sting. While the sting may pinch and leave a painful wound, try to keep your child calm by reminding them they will be okay.
2.) The next step on what to do for a bee stingis removing the bee sting immediately after it’s inserted into the skin. If stung by a honeybee, the stinger will remain in your skin after the bee has flown away. This becomes a problem because the stinger continues to pump venom into your skin until it is removed. Unlike the popular belief, it does not matter how the stinger gets out, the more important thing is the stinger gets out quickly. The quicker the stinger is removed, the less venom will enter your body. The best ways to remove a stinger is to scrape it out with a fingernail, or use the side of a credit card, or a dull knife to carefully remove it. Pulling the stinger out with fingers without caution can release more venom into the skin, so with this procedure attentiveness is recommended. If tweezers are available, they can be used to remove the stinger from the skin also.
3.) After the stinger is removed from the skin wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. A good scrub will cleanse the wounded area and prevent any other bacteria from entering the wound and causing an infection.
4.) If there is any pain after the bee sting, take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to eliminate the soreness.
5.) Apply a cold pack of ice placed in a bag or wrapped in a towel around the area of insertion to reduce pain and swelling. A good timing tip is ten minutes with the ice on your wound and ten minutes off. This should continue for 30 to 60 minutes for best results. Another way to reduce swelling is to elevate the area that was stung by the bee.
6.) Finally, the last step, is to keep an eye out for allergic reactions, which is covered in depth later on. Also, make sure to rest your body and the area stung by the bee. If your foot was stung, do not continue your intense baseball game but rather allow your foot to heal for 2-3 days before applying much force to it.
Homemade Remedies to Help Bee Stings:
There are either helpful remedies you can buy at the store or homemade natural treatments that can help answer the question on what to do for a bee sting.
The first homemade way to relieve itching is to apply toothpaste to the sting. Doing this gives a feeling you are itching the wound and relieves the urge to do it yourself. Leave the toothpaste on for fifteen minutes before washing it off. For the most effective results, reapply every five hours until the injury is gone.
Another home remedy uses a few simple ingredients found around the house; Vinegar, baking soda, and meat tenderizer. Because the meat tenderizer’s contains papain, mixing these simple ingredients helps to break down the toxins in the bee venom. Smear the mixture on the wound and allow it to sit for twenty minutes. When it is applied, the combination will fizz due to the ingredients. The symptoms will start to decrease and disappear within an hour after application.
If you keep honey in your house, this may be a helpful remedy for you. Add honey to the site of the wound and leave it on for approximately 30 minutes. This causes a soothing, cool feeling to alleviate the symptoms of the bee sting. Keep caution during this remedy due to honey’s stickiness, it may be hard to remove.
Another simple and effective home remedy is to rub deodorant on the sore. While this will soothe the pain of the bee sting, it may cause the area around the bee sting to worsen.
Another idea is leaving a wet tea bag on the area for fifteen to twenty minutes to soothe the pain of the bee sting.
Finally, the last home remedy for bee stings is to slice a potato in half. Put one of the halves over the bee sting and allow it to sit for a few minutes. This speeds up the healing time and can provide a comforting feeling for the pain.
Store Bought Remedies for Bee Stings:
If you prefer to use store bought medications rather then home remedies, there are plenty of creams and medications available. Most are found at local drug stores and shopping centers in the medication aisles.
Find a calamine lotion with analgesic at the drug store and spread it over the wound. It will provide a soothing feeling and recommended to keep on for 45 minutes. You can reapply the lotion after 4 hours, although the symptoms will suddenly return.
Many creams are available to relieve the pain of bee stings such as hydrocortisone cream, antihistamine cream, or corticosteroid cream that are found at most drug stores. Spread the cream over the area for soothing feelings and reapply every few hours.
Another helpful medication is a Benzocaine stick, a medication that reduces nerve endings. While this is a simple and inexpensive medication, the relief does not last long. You can reapply it every couple hours.
Allergic Reactions to Bee Stings:
While only 1 person out of a thousand people will have an allergic reaction to a bee sting, it is an important topic to discuss. Some symptoms that may appear after a bee sting are redness, swelling, pain, itching, warmth, and small amounts of blood, according to the OSU Medical Center. All of these symptoms are NORMAL and should not provide any concern. However the list below are symptoms that need to be looked into and help discuss the matter of what to do for a bee sting with unusual side effects.
· Tickling in the throat
· Stiffness in the throat or chest
· Breathing issues
· Nausea and/or vomiting
· Dizziness or fainting
· Itching and rashes on the body other then where the bee stung.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, there may be a possibility you are allergic to the bee’s venom. This requires immediate medical consideration and should be taken seriously. While it is important to stay relaxed if these symptoms appear, you should still take concern and action to fix the problem. Within ten minutes of the sting, you can become unconscious and lead to cardiac arrest. With a simple skin test, a doctor can find out if someone is allergic to a bee much quicker then any parent can. If you are allergic to the venom of a bee, doctors have all the correct equipment, such as a shot, to help keep you or a loved one safe. Another possibility is a person can go into Anaphylactic Shock from a bee sting. Also other concerns that require a doctor’s attention are the location of the bee sting. If the bee stings a person in the mouth, throat, or nose, medical attention is advised immediately. If this occurs, call 911 immediately.
Around 50 people die a year in the United States due to bee stings, but with the help of understanding the difference between regular symptoms and fatal symptoms; you could prevent one of those 50 people from dying.
How to Prevent Bee Stings:
While dying from a bee sting is extremely rare, some people are still afraid of them. If you are one of those people that do not want to experience the feeling of being stung by a bee, here are a few steps to help you out. While it is impossible to fully ensure you will never face a bee sting, there are many helpful ways to greatly decrease your chance with the help of Virginia University.
· Avoid scented products, such as heavy scented shampoos, hair products, hair sprays, or gels, perfumes, lotions, and sanitizers.
· Don’t wear brightly colored clothing or flowered printed clothing because it attracts bees.
· When outside, do not walk around barefoot.
· Spray clothing with different repellents to keep the bees out.
· Avoid places where hives and nests are present. If there is a hive near your house or other common place you go to, seek professional help to get it removed.
· Teach your kids and others to stay calm in any situation with a bee and to slowly walk away from any situation including one.
· Don’t disturb hives and nests with bees in them.
· Cover up food when eating outside.
· Caution taking soda drinks outside, bees may climb in without knowing.
· Stay away from trashcans because they attract bees.
Bee Sting Awareness:
Now you are fully aware of the risks of bee stings and what to do for a bee sting, you can feel more comfortable when outside with your kids, playing sports in the sun, or babysitting the neighbors. And we have answered the question many of you have been wondering for a long time, that is what to do for a bee sting! With the help of this article you can now say you are a professional, bee stinging, citizen!