Bee stings are relatively common in the summertime, but if you’ve just been stung for the first time, you might be concerned about potentially having an allergic reaction. Here’s what you need to know about bee sting allergies and how to seek the appropriate treatment.
Potential Reactions to Bee Stings
The symptoms you experience after being stung by a bee may include:
- A normal reaction , including pain, swelling and redness at the sting site
- A mild allergic reaction characterized by extensive swelling, pimple-like spots, warmth and itching
- Anaphylaxis , a rare but life-threatening allergic reaction with symptoms that include hives, swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, rapid pulse, lightheadedness, and sharp drop in blood pressure
Treatment for Bee Stings
If you or someone you’re with exhibits signs of anaphylaxis, administer an epinephrine shot , if available, and call 911 immediately . Even if the medicine appears work, seek immediate medical aid for an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting.
If you have a normal, non-allergic reaction – including pain, swelling and redness – find relief with these treatment tips:
- If you were stung on the hand, remove any rings you’re wearing before any swelling occurs.
- Remove the stinger as quickly as possible. Scrape the stinger out with your fingernail or a credit card. Avoid squeezing the stinger to prevent more venom from coming out.
- Wash the sting site with warm water and soap.
- Apply antiseptic, hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. Wrap the area with a dry, sterile bandage.
- If swelling occurs, elevate the affected area and apply an ice pack.
- If itching and hives occur, take oral antihistamines.
- If pain occurs, take over-the-counter pain relievers.
Prevent Bee Stings This Summer
No one enjoys being stung by a bee, whether they have allergies or not. Lower your risk of bee stings this summer with these tips:
- Wear close-toed shoes when walking through grass. Dress in a long-sleeved shirt and pants when walking through wooded areas.
- Avoid insect nests.
- Refrain from wearing bright colors or floral-scented perfumes that could attract bees.
- Install screens on your windows and doors at home, and keep your car windows rolled up.
- Don’t grow flowers in your yard that attract bees.
- Drink soda from a bottle, and put the lid on between sips. Open soda cans and cups attract bees.
- Keep garbage cans tightly covered.
- If you have severe bee sting allergies, carry an epinephrine shot with you and wear a medical bracelet or necklace at all times.
It’s vital to see an allergist if you have a history of anaphylactic reactions to bee stings because you have a 60 percent chance of having a similar or even more severe reaction the next time you’re stung. Your allergist could prescribe life-saving epinephrine and venom immunotherapy to prevent severe allergic reactions to bee stings in the future.
To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM nearest you . We have locations in Philadelphia, Collegeville, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, Blue Bell, King of Prussia and Jenkintown.