Dealing with a bee sting

A bee sting can cause severe pain and should be avoided. The reaction of the body differs from one species to another. People allergic to a bee sting can end up with a dangerous anaphylactic reaction. Stings from honey bee release pheromones that prompt other bees to attack. Bees utilize their stingers as self-defense which contains poisonous venom that causes a reaction in the body.

Symptoms of a bee sting

  • Severe and burning pain
  • A red welt that has a white spot in the center
  • Swelling of the sting site
  • Difficulty breathing
    Fire ants

    A red welt that has a white spot in the center.

  • Rapid pulse
  • Swelling of the face, throat or mouth
  • Difficulties in swallowing and wheezing
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Hives that looks red, itchy and spread to other areas of the body
  • Dizziness and low blood pressure


  • Remove immediately the stinger that is embedded in the skin to prevent venom from entering the body. Scrape the affected area using the fingernail or pair of tweezers. Avoid pinching the stinger to prevent injecting more venom into the skin. Wash the affected area using an antiseptic soap and water. Pat dry the area and apply an antiseptic ointment or calamine lotion to lessen the itching and swelling.
  • Apply an ice pack on the sting site for at least 10-15 minutes every hour to lessen the swelling and pain. Ice also numbs the pain. Wrap the ice pack with a towel or piece of cloth before applying on the area.
  • Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with few drops of water. Mix until it becomes a paste. Apply the paste on the affected area for 5-10 minutes and rinse using lukewarm water. If the symptoms persist, apply again after a few hours.
  • Open a fresh aloe vera leaf and extract the gel. Apply the fresh gel on the affected area every day for a few days. Aloe vera lessens the swelling, itchiness and pain caused by bee sting.
  • Take the prescribed pain medication such as acetaminophen to lessen the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
  • Apply the prescribed hydrocortisone cream on the affected area to lessen the itching. Reapply after 4 hours if the symptoms persist.


  • Cover the mouth and nose and walk slowly from the area if there are bees flying around.
  • Avoid swatting the bees to prevent them from becoming defensive.
  • Avoid scratching the sting site to reduce the risk for infection.
  • Cover tightly food containers when eating outdoors to prevent attracting bees and other insects.
  • If stung in the leg or arm, elevate the area above the level of heart to lessen the symptom

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on a bee sting is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage insect stings by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.


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