While Spring is a time for blooming flowers and warm sunny days, it’s also a time for bees and bee sting.
For many people, bee stings are nothing more than a painful irritation that passes within a few hours. However, for more than two million Americans who suffer from bee sting allergies, the reaction from a bee sting can be far more intense.
Symptoms of bee allergies may include hives, itching, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure and in a few cases, anaphylactic shock.
Because traditional insect repellents won’t prevent bee stings, it’s important to know what does work and how to treat bee stings, from the minor to the severe.
What to do for a bee sting?
Bee stings can be extremely agonizing and in a few instances, even fatal. Bees inject poison from a stinger under the skin of the individual they sting.
Unlike wasps that have stingers that withdraw after stinging, bees have barbed stingers that remain in the skin.
The barb has a venom sack attached that can go on to inject poison for up to 3 minutes if it is not removed. Roughly 3% of the persons stung by bees experience an allergic reaction and just around 0.8% have an allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
People who are not allergic to bee stings will experience swelling and itching at and near the area, they were stung. The skin will become red and very painful.
These reactions may last for up to seven days. If there is an allergic reaction, hives, redness, and swelling can form all over the body. They can also experience swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and imbalance.
People suffering from an anaphylactic reaction may experience difficulty breathing, and a drop in blood pressure that will lead to shock if not treated immediately.
50 persons die each year from such reactions to bee stings. Anaphylactic reactions will occur within a few minutes of the actual sting. If someone who is allergic is stung more than once, their reaction will worsen each time.
Prevent bee stings by taking the following precautions:
- Don’t wear brightly colored clothes or floral prints as bees are attracted to vibrant colors.
- Bees are also attracted to sweet scents, so avoid wearing fragrances, lotions, shampoos, and cosmetics.
- Sweet food and drinks are well-known for enticing bees, especially canned soda drinks. The tiny insect will climb in the opening and may sting if someone unwittingly takes a sip.
- Always wear shoes outdoors especially when walking in the grass. Bees are attracted to the white clover weed that is found in most lawns.
- Bees are not typically aggressive insects and their stingers are used in defense. If a bee flies a little too-close-for-comfort, just hold still. Quick movement may frighten the bee into stinging.
Minor bee stings are easily treated by removing the stinger immediately. Next, place a cold compress on the infected area. If minor itching occurs, use antihistamine or calamine lotion.
Applying ammonia, or a paste of baking soda and water to the affected area will produce a similar result. While swelling may not be noticeable until the next day, most pain caused by bee stings will dissipate within two hours.
If more serious reactions occur such as vomiting, dizziness or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical care. You should also seek immediate treatment if there are ten or more stings.
Or, if the sting is located in the nose or mouth as swelling may inhibit breathing.