In late summer and early autumn, bees and other stinging insects often become more aggressive due to a shortage of nectar-producing flowers. Although, most of us avoid an area if bees are present, occasionally we suffer the dreaded sting.
If the person does not have severe allergy symptoms:
1. Remove the Stinger
Scrape the area with a fingernail or use tweezers to remove it.
Don’t pinch the stinger — that can inject more venom.
2. Control Swelling
Ice the area.
If you were stung on your arm or leg, elevate it.
Remove any tight-fitting jewelry from the area of the sting. As it swells, rings or bracelets might become hard to get off.
3. Treat Symptoms
For pain, take an over-the-counter painkiller like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Do not give aspirin to anyone under age 18.
For itchiness, take an antihistamine. You can also apply a mixture of baking soda and water or calamine lotion.
4. Follow-Up
It might take 2-5 days for the area to heal. Keep it clean to prevent infection.
If the person does have severe allergy symptoms (anaphylaxis):
1. Call 911
Seek emergency care if the person has these symptoms or a history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), even if there are no symptoms:
Difficulty breathing or wheezing
Tightness in the throat or a feeling that the airways are closing
Hoarseness or trouble speaking
Nausea, abdominal pain, or vomiting
Fast heartbeat or pulse
Skin that itches, tingles, swells, or turns red
Anxiety or dizziness
Loss of consciousness
2. Inject Epinephrine Immediately
If the person has an anaphylaxis action plan from a doctor for injecting epinephrine and other emergency measures, follow it. Otherwise, if the person carries an epinephrine shot or one is available, inject epinephrine if the person is unable to.
If the person has a history of anaphylaxis, don’t wait for signs of a severe reaction to inject epinephrine.
Read and follow patient instructions carefully.
Inject epinephrine into outer muscle of the thigh. Avoid injecting into a vein or buttock muscles.
Do not inject medicine into hands or feet, which can cause tissue damage. If this happens, notify emergency room staff.
The person may need more than one injection if there’s no improvement after the first. For an adult, inject again after 10 to 20 minutes. For a child, inject again after 5 to 30 minutes.
3. Do CPR if the Person Stops Breathing
For a child, start CPR for children
For an adult, start adult CPR.
4. Follow Up
Make sure that someone stays with the person for 24 hours after anaphylaxis in case of another attack.
Report the reaction to the person’s doctor.