The first step in treatment following a bee sting is removal of the stinger itself. The stinger should be removed as quickly as possible without regard to method: studies have shown the amount of venom delivered does not differ whether the sting is pinched or scraped off and even a delay of a few seconds leads to more venom being injected. Once the stinger is removed, pain and swelling should be reduced with a cold compress. Wash around it with soap and water to prevent any bacteria from entering the body, and try not to touch the area of the sting, this will prevent any infections.

The sting may be painful for a few hours. Swelling and itching may persist for a week. The area should not be scratched as it will only increase the itching and swelling. If a reaction persists for over a week or covers an area greater than 7-10 cm (3 or 4 inches), medical attention should be sought. Doctors often recommend a tetanus immunization. For about 2 percent of people, anaphylactic shock from certain proteins in the venom can be life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. If the victim is allergic to bee stings, the victim must be treated to prevent shock. People known to be highly allergic may carry around epinephrine in the form of a self-injectable EpiPen for the treatment of an anaphylactic shock.

For patients who experience severe or life threatening reactions to insect stings, researchers at Johns Hopkins have developed a series of allergy injections composed of increasing concentrations of naturally occurring venom which provide excellent and usually life-long protections against future insect stings.

If you'd like to safeguard yourself against future bee stings, you may want to start taking zinc or thiamine. These nutrients may affect your body odor, which in turn could keep the insects away. You can infuse your diet with foods such as red meats, oysters, and fortified cereals, which are high in zinc. If you decide to go that route, make sure to check with your doctor first, as high amounts of nutrients may be unhealthy.


Bee venom is acidic as it contains the highly acidic peptide melittin, and these interventions are often recommended to neutralize the venom; however, neutralizing a sting is unlikely to be effective as the venom is injected under the skin and deep into the tissues, where a topically applied alkali is unable to reach, so neutralization is unlikely to occur.

Many people do claim benefit from these home remedies but it is doubtful they have any real physical effect on how much a sting hurts or continues hurting. The effect is probably related to rubbing the area or the mind perceiving benefit. Furthermore, none of these interventions have been proven to be effective in scientific studies and a randomized trial of aspirin paste and topical ice packs showed that aspirin was not effective in reducing the duration of swelling or pain in bee and wasp stings, and significantly increased the duration of redness. The study concluded that ice alone is better treatment for bee and wasp stings than aspirin.

Rubbing a wound distracts the mind from the immediate pain and rubbing a wound with anything safe promotes the of endorphins which may reduce the pain. Putting on an ice compress and rubbing the wound is the best known treatment. If you are in the woods and there is no ice available, substitute mud for ice; apply mud onto the sting and the coolness of the mud will soothe the sting.

If you want to try a topical treatment to break down the venom anyways, here are some options with the rationales.

Apply a mixture of baking soda and water to the bee sting area. Bee venom is acidic as it contains the highly acidic peptide melittin and baking soda will react with the acid, forming a harmless salt. Mix a third of a cup of baking soda with two thirds of a cup of water, and put it on and around the sting. After a couple of minutes, you should start to feel relief. The paste will dry up and stop working after about 15 minutes, so apply more.

Another way to reduce pain and inflammation (if you are not allergic to bee stings) is to make a paste with a few drops of water to a teaspoon of meat tenderizer. In order for this to be affective however you must use a brand of meat tenderizer that has papain in it. Papain breaks down the protein that is in insect bites which is why it is needed. Adolph's and McCormick are two brands that contain Papain. After applying the paste, use a hair dryer to dry it and then cover it with a bandage to help the paste take affect and to keep it from getting further infected and irritated.

Other traditional remedies that have been suggested for bee stings include damp pastes of tobacco, salt, toothpaste, clay, garlic, urine, onions or even application of copper coins.

Anti Inflammation

Treatments that reduce inflammation will reduce the pain. To reduce inflammation here are some options, some of which may work.

Placing peeled and sliced potatoes on a bee sting may help the sting become less painful and irritating faster. Potatoes contain allantoin, which is a white powder that is created by oxidation. Allantoin will soothe the inflammation caused by the sting. This remedy is common among in Hispanic society.

Another option is broadleaf plantain. One simply chews 2-4 leaves (enough so that the paste will cover the sting thoroughly) until they form a fibrous paste, then applies this poultice like substance to a sting. The pain and inflammation generally subside in a matter of minutes. This practice comes from Anglo-Saxon culture; many of the earlier references to plantain come from Scottish highland culture. It is mentioned in Chaucer's writing, as well as in several of Shakespeare's plays (Love's Labours Lost, Romeo and Juliet, and others).

Another option is soybean paste. Apply the soybean paste on the sting for about 15 minutes, or until the paste dries. The paste will lessen the pain, itchiness, and swelling of the victim. No risks or symptoms apply with this remedy. Because of the popular Korean dish, soybean paste is a well known remedy for the Korean culture, however it may not be popular in other cultures.

Another option is to rub parsley on the sting area.


The information presented is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.

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