Ah yes, I hear the humming noise of wasps and bees lurking in the woods. It’s a familiar sound and often engenders feelings much like the theme to the movie “Jaws”. Since we are “blessed” with a multitude of these barbed, flying creatures I thought it might be a good time to revisit what to do when one of them meets up with a part of your body. Here is you “clip and save” Bee Sting 101 for this summer.
Any difficulty breathing or swallowing, any signs of systemic or generalized reaction, DO NOT WAIT – CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY
1 Remove stinger by gently scraping across the site with blunt edged object (such as a credit card or dull knife). Try not to pull or tug on stinger as this will release more venom.
2 Apply cold pack or ice pack to help reduce swelling and pain (10 minutes on and 10 minutes off for at least 30-60 minutes).
3 If the sting is on an extremity (hand or arm; foot or leg), try elevating the limb to help reduce swelling. If it is on the hand or arm, remove all rings in case swelling occurs. And if you are sporting a toe ring and get stung in the foot or leg, you should remove your toe ring as well.
4 Take oral diphenhydramine (Benadryl) every 6 hours for at least 2 days. This will cause drowsiness. Avoid activities that require mental alertness, such as driving. With our potent yellow jackets, we actually see more swelling occurring the second day, so treating for two days is important. Check package directions for dose. Make sure you are using a product that is in date.
H2 histamine blockers (e.g. ranitidine-Zantac or famotidine-Pepcide) may be given to augment the effect of diphenhydramine.
5 To help reduce itching or discomfort consider the following:
• apply a paste of baking soda & water, leave on for 15-20 minutes
• apply hydrocortisone cream
• apply a paste of non-seasoned meat tenderizer & water, leave on for 15-20 minutes
• use OTC product for bee stings (e.g. Sting Kill)
• when all else fails try Salonpas patches or MSM cream 6 To help reduce the possibility of future stings:
• avoid perfumes, hairsprays, scented products
• avoid brightly colored clothing (drab grey is good)
• do not walk around barefoot
• spray clothing with insect repellant
• citronella candles help in a small area
• avoid leaving food out (yellow jackets are carnivores and are attracted to meat and barbequing – they can bite AND sting)