5 ways to find relief from those pesky bee and wasp stings
I saw the first plump, fuzzy bumblebee of the season the other day. I’m not one to be scared of bees; in fact, being a gardener, I appreciate and respect them very much. But I do manage to upset a few every year, who let me know by stinging me. Actually, it’s usually the wasps that get me. The bees seem to be a little more forgiving.
What can you do to ease the sting of an angry bee or wasp? There are a few home remedies that I’ve found to work well. First, let’s talk about the serious side of stings. If you are allergic to bees or wasps, do not try a home remedy. Remove the stinger immediately, use an EpiPen if you have one and get medical attention right away. If you are unsure if you are allergic, here are some signs to watch for:
- Hives or welts
- Difficulty breathing
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Swollen tongue
If any of these happen, call 911 or get to an emergency room immediately.
If you are not allergic, you are likely to have a painful welt where you got stung. Remove the stinger as soon as possible, clean the area with soap and water, and then try one of these pain-relieving remedies made from ingredients found in most homes:
- Ice. Apply it for 20 minutes to numb the pain and slow blood flow.
- Baking soda and water. Make a paste and apply it to the sting to neutralize the venom. Leave it on for about 30 minutes. If you don’t have these ingredients, try:
- Toothpaste. The same principle applies as with the baking soda and vinegar.
- Crushed garlic. If you don’t mind smelling like an Italian meatball, crush a clove of garlic to release its juices and press it against the sting. Leave it there and cover with a moist washcloth for about 30 minutes.
- Honey. Weird, huh? Apply a dab to the sting and cover with gauze for about an hour. (Honey has great healing properties and can be used on any wound.)
Any of these remedies should get you through the worst of the pain, but stings usually take up to a week to heal. During that time you may still experience mild itching.
A word about bees: They really are our friends. Without them, we would not have flowers, fruits, vegetables or many types of flora — most vegetation relies on bees to pollinate and, therefore, carry on with living and growing. Wasps also serve a purpose: Some pollinate plants and most eat other insects, so they help to keep insect populations under control. Try not to kill bees and wasps in a preemptive effort to avoid being stung. And avoid using sprays that kill them, along with many other beneficial bugs caught in the crossfire. If you see a bee or wasp simply mind it, and it will mind you.