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What is the Best Way to Treat a Bee Sting?

Treating a bee sting promptly can alleviate pain and prevent complications. The best approach is to remove the stinger, wash the area with soap and water, then apply a cold compress to reduce swelling. Over-the-counter remedies can also soothe discomfort. For a visual guide on these steps and more detailed advice, see our accompanying images. What will you try first?

Being stung by a bee is a painful and sometimes dangerous experience. The level of pain felt by a bee sting victim is in direct proportion to the type of bee, the area of the bee sting and the person’s sensitivity to the venom contained in the bee’s stinger. To treat a bee sting, it's important to remove the stinger, ice the wound, and watch carefully for any allergic reaction.

The first thing to do to treat a bee sting is to locate and remove the bee’s stinger from the skin. This is very important, because the stinger contains venom that will continue to be released, causing the sting to worsen. When the stinger is located, it should be scraped off horizontally with a clean finger nail or plastic card. If this doesn’t work, you can remove the stinger with tweezers. Pinch the area around the bee sting so that the stinger rises above the surface of the skin and pull it out with the tweezers.

Using an ice pack can help diminish the pain from a bee sting.
Using an ice pack can help diminish the pain from a bee sting.

After the stinger is removed, apply ice or a cold wet compress to the sting site. This helps to numb the pain and soreness of the sting. It is important to watch the bee sting victim for any signs of anaphylactic shock, which is a serious allergic reaction to the bee’s venom.

The signs of this reaction include difficulty breathing, seizure, loss of consciousness, weakness, confusion, vomiting and/or hives. These symptoms usually occur seconds to minutes after an initial sting and require immediate emergency medical intervention. Many people who have a history of allergic reactions to bee stings carry an epinephrine injection to treat a bee sting and prevent anaphylactic shock. It is important to realize that anaphylactic shock can occur even if someone has never had a reaction to previous bee stings.


When there is no longer a threat of allergic reaction, you can treat the sting with many household materials that are probably already on hand. One very effective way to treat a bee sting is to make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the sting site. Another common home remedy is meat tenderizer, which, when sprinkled generously over the site, can effectively reduce pain and swelling. You can also apply honey to the area, which relieves the pain.

There are also many commercial products available on the market to treat bee stings. When you are traveling, camping or engaged in other activities away from home, having these products on hand is a good idea because it never hurts to be prepared.

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Discussion Comments


I always have severe reactions to bee stings and a pharmacist told me the easiest remedy. Get a cigarette/tobacco, wet it with water and apply to the sting spot. It does remove the swelling.


@fBoyle-- No, don't feel bad, go to the doctor. One week is a very long time, you might be experiencing an allergic reaction.

Did you take the stinger out? Try looking with a magnifying glass and see if you can find anything. Remove it with a tweezer if you do. If your arm is swollen, it might have hid the stinger which would explain why you're still in pain one week later.

I think you should take an oral antihistamine like others suggested and see your doctor. Because a bee sting should not continue to hurt for so long.


Please everyone I need help! I got stung by three large bees one week ago. It has been one week and I have tried every remedy but my arm is still red, swollen and painful. I'm afraid that this is going to leave some kind of mark on my skin. I can't move my arm, it hurts that much.

Should I go to the doctor? I feel kind of stupid going to the doctor for bee stings.


@cloudel-- I agree! I highly recommend the aloe vera gel with lidocaine that's sold at pharmacies. That stuff is gold!

The aloe vera cools and soothes and lidocaine is a topical pain reliever. I have never seen the pain of a bee sting go away as quickly as I did with this. I don't even need ice when I have this on hand.


@anon35316 – Try covering it with aloe vera gel. This stuff cools your skin so much, and it has always helped me with every kind of itch.

I've used it on sunburn, on ant bites, and on bee stings. It doesn't take the initial pain away right after it happens, but it certainly helps relieve the itching that comes later.


@Kristee – Baking soda's alkalinity is what makes it work for this. It neutralizes the acid of the venom.

For this same reason, baking soda and water is also good at treating jellyfish stings. I carried some with me in a little container when I went to the ocean, because I always end up getting stung, and the pain is just unbearable.

While the pain still persisted to some degree, I felt much better than I would have if I didn't have the paste. I suspect that this holds true when using it to treat bee stings, as well. You're going to have a little pain regardless of what you put on it, but it's better to use the baking soda than to do nothing at all.


What is it about baking soda that makes it a good bee sting remedy? Does it contain some sort of medicine?


It's so ironic that you can use honey as a bee sting treatment! Bees probably never guessed that their own product would be a remedy for their only line of defense.

I would use honey on my bee sting, but I'm afraid I would just end up licking it off. I'm addicted to honey!


baking soda and water. make a paste and apply it. immediate relief. old cure but still works.


I used honey and it soothed it very well. Thanks for the suggestion.


There's a homeopathic called Apis Mellifica. A natropath will probably carry it. I was stung in between my ring finger and my pinkie, and my whole hand was swollen. I started taking Apis Mel, and it helped a lot! Hope it works for you too!


I tried the honey and it felt better for a couple of minutes then started to itch and hurt again. I then applied the baking soda and water paste. Have had it on about 10 minutes and so far seems to be helping. Six bites total, about the size of silver dollars now. Guess I'm allergic. Surprised at how big the bites have become. The two on my jugular vein were hurting the worst.


I was sting by several yellow jackets on my legs a few days ago and the itch and swelling is about to drive me crazy. can anybody the me what to do. I've taken benadryl and cortizone 10 nothing seems to work. Please, please help!


for my science homework i have to say why and how bee and wasp stings are treated but i have to do it scientifically. any help? thank you.


water helps.


to relieve itching any antihistamine should work --for instance Benadryl.


I paid $4 for 1/2 ounce of a product made specifically for bee stings. It only contained ammonia. You can buy a gallon for the stuff for $2.


The BugPlug is a beverage can bee guard that keeps bees and other insects out of pop and beer cans.


*Ahhh!* I feel like my foot was going to fall off. It was itching like crazy! I tried everything but it still is killing me! I literally started biting my foot to itch it but I can't get it to stop! What do I do? Do you have any remedies?


I can't seem to get the stinger to surface so that I may remove it.


itching. how do you treat that, because my foot is itching like crazy?


I tried the baking soda and water and I feel so much better.


I had a very noticeable bee sting and I put some honey and I felt like 100,000,000 bucks! I no longer had an itching sensation where the bee sting was thank you so much!

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    • Using an ice pack can help diminish the pain from a bee sting.
      By: Marc Dietrich
      Using an ice pack can help diminish the pain from a bee sting.
    • Bee.
    • A paste of baking soda can soothe a sting.
      A paste of baking soda can soothe a sting.
    • Applying honey may relieve the pain of a bee sting.
      By: Jaimie Duplass
      Applying honey may relieve the pain of a bee sting.
    • Tweezers can be used to remove a bee's stinger from the body.
      By: Africa Studio
      Tweezers can be used to remove a bee's stinger from the body.
    • Some individuals may experience hives as part of an allergic reaction to a bee sting.
      By: Rob Byron
      Some individuals may experience hives as part of an allergic reaction to a bee sting.