Insect bite home treatment: Bee Sting Home Remedies: What Works?
Bee Sting Home Remedies: What Works?
If stung by a bee, calmly remove the stinger, wash the area, and use ice to reduce swelling. Home remedies can help, but seek immediate medical attention if there are signs of anaphylaxis.
For most people, a bee sting is just a nuisance. You may experience temporary pain, redness, and itching at the sting site but no serious complications.
Unless you’re allergic to the bee’s toxin or experiencing signs of a severe allergic reaction, you can treat most bee stings at home.
In addition to basic first aid, certain home remedies have long been believed to soothe inflamed skin and reduce itching. These include applying honey, witch hazel, and even toothpaste!
We’ll break down traditional medical treatments of a honey bee sting, common approaches to relieving milder sting symptoms at home, and how to recognize an allergic reaction.
Here are the most important steps in first aid for a honey bee sting:
- Remove the stinger quickly.
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Avoid scratching, as this can lead to infection.
A 2020 overview of research into honey bee stinger removal concludes that the most important thing is to remove the stinger as soon as possible. A bee’s stinger will continue to release venom while stuck in your skin.
It’s usually advised that you brush or scrape the stinger out using a piece of gauze, your fingernail, or even a credit card. Pulling or pinching it out isn’t ideal, but may be necessary.
After these steps, the following reliable approaches can help treat the sting and minimize your discomfort.
Cold compresses reduce pain and swelling by limiting blood flow to the area.
It’s important that you don’t put ice directly on the skin, as it can burn you. Icing for 20 minutes or less is ideal.
Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Motrin or Advil, may help lower your body’s inflammation, and relieve pain.
You can also treat itching and redness with hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion.
Taking an oral antihistamine such as Benadryl or Zyrtec may bring relief from itching and swelling in particular. Antihistamines help our immune system calm down from an allergic response.
Anything more than a mild allergic reaction should be evaluated by a doctor right away.
What happens to the bee after it stings me?
Did you know that only female honey bees have stingers?
When the bee stings you, its stinger lodges in your skin. This ultimately kills the honey bee, as the release of the stinger also tears out the bee’s lower body.
Honey bees are the only type of bee that die after they sting. Wasps, including hornets, and other species of bee, such as the carpenter bee, don’t lose their stingers. This means that they can sting you more than once.
Bees aren’t aggressive by nature. They’ll only sting when threatened or protecting their hive. It’s important not to capture or chase honey bees or touch their hive.
Leave beekeeping to the experts — save yourself a sting, and save the bees!
Was this helpful?
Bee stings are often treated with a combination of both traditional first aid and home remedies.
Several of the most common at-home treatments for bee sting symptoms aren’t supported by scientific research. Yet they’ve been passed down for generations and continue to be popular.
It’s important to remember that none of these home remedies should cause more pain or make the sting worse. Should this happen, stop and clean the sting with soap and water, and don’t try that approach again.
Honey may help with wound healing and infection prevention.
A 2021 research review reported that medical-grade honey (MGH), including Manuka honey, has proven to lower inflammation and have strong antimicrobial properties. This means that MGH can help repel bacteria and fungi. It’s less clear whether other traditional honeys have such effects.
Honey is also believed to release oxygen into wounds to aid healing and help flush out dead tissue.
To treat bee stings with MGH or household honey, apply a small amount to the affected area. Cover with a loose bandage and leave on for up to an hour.
Here are more articles on using honey:
- How, When, and Why Honey Is Used for Wound Care
- 7 Unique Health Benefits of Honey
- Everything You Should Know About Manuka Honey
2. Baking soda
A paste made of baking soda and water can help with a variety of insect bites and stings. It’s believed baking soda can neutralize bee venom, reducing itching and swelling.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives the following recipe for baking soda paste to calm mosquito bites. Many people also use it for bee stings:
- Mix 1 teaspoon water with enough baking soda to make a thick paste.
- Rub the paste over the affected area.
- Leave on for 10 minutes.
- Rinse off.
Another suggestion is to cover the paste with a bandage to help it take effect and leave it on 15 minutes before washing it away.
There’s no real scientific evidence that toothpaste can help bee stings. However, people claim that the alkaline toothpaste (high pH) neutralizes the acidic honey bee venom (low pH). If this is true, however, toothpaste won’t work on wasp venom, which is alkaline.
Similar to baking soda, it’s believed that toothpaste will draw out venom. Mint types are also said to provide a cool, soothing effect.
Either way, toothpaste is an inexpensive and easy home remedy to try. Simply dab a bit on the affected area, and wipe away after 10 to 20 minutes.
4. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is used for a wide range of health and wellness purposes, from improving skin conditions to helping manage diabetes. While not all of its uses are supported by research, it’s a scientifically-backed antibacterial.
Some people believe apple cider vinegar can neutralize bee venom, prevent infection, and lower inflammation.
Soak the site of your bee sting in diluted apple cider vinegar for at least 15 minutes. You can also wet a bandage or cloth in the vinegar and then apply it to the sting site. Stop this approach if it causes irritation.
5. Aspirin paste
Another long-standing home remedy for reducing the discomfort of a bee sting is to apply wet aspirin — or aspirin paste — to the sting site. This consists of crushing up an uncoated aspirin tablet and mixing the powder with water into a paste.
However, a 2003 study concluded that applying aspirin topically to bee or wasp stings didn’t hold up when tested. The aspirin paste actually increased redness among participants and didn’t decrease the duration of swelling or pain. Ice was determined to be a more effective treatment.
6. Plant extracts and essential oils
These naturally occurring topicals are associated with wound healing and may help relieve symptoms of a bee sting.
Some of the support behind these remedies is anecdotal. However, research indicates that aloe vera and witch hazel do have proven anti-inflammatory properties. They often appear as ingredients in many skin care products and other wound-healing topicals.
Here are some natural remedies to consider:
- Aloe vera has a variety of uses, including soothing irritated skin. You can buy the gel or make your own if you have an aloe plant. Simply break off a leaf and squeeze the gel directly onto the affected area.
- Witch hazel is a natural astringent and antiseptic. It’s considered a go-to home remedy for insect bites and bee stings that can prevent infection, and reduce swelling and pain. Apply witch hazel (which comes as a clear liquid) directly to the bee sting as needed.
- Calendula cream is an antiseptic used to heal minor wounds and ease skin irritation. Apply the cream directly to the sting site and cover with a bandage.
- Lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory abilities and can help relieve swelling. Dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil. Dab a few drops of the mixture onto the sting site.
- Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and may ease bee sting pain and prevent infection. Mix with a carrier oil and apply a drop to the sting site.
Most people who are stung by a honey bee have no physical symptoms aside from discomfort at the site of the sting. Mild allergic reactions may cause increased swelling and redness at the sting site.
If you’re very allergic to the bee’s toxin, or if you get stung multiple times, bee stings can cause a more serious allergic response. The CDC reports that between 2000 and 2017, an average of 62 Americans per year died from hornet, wasp, and bee stings.
In such rare cases, bee stings may cause a life threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This happens when your immune system overreacts to the allergy trigger, sending your body into crisis mode. Symptoms can start within minutes or take up to a half-hour to show up.
Anaphylaxis is always a medical emergency and requires hospitalization.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), key symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- hives (red and itchy welts on skin)
- turning pale or red-faced
- swelling of the tongue and throat
- difficulty breathing
- coughing or wheezing
- nausea and vomiting
- stomach cramps
- loss of consciousness
When it comes to anaphylaxis and other severe allergic reactions, multiple treatments are often used together.
This includes the following medications and other medical approaches:
- Epinephrine (EpiPen). If you’ve had anaphylactic shock after a bee sting in the past, you’ll need to carry an EpiPen with you at all times. The pen delivers a shot of epinephrine (adrenaline), which counters your body’s allergic response. It opens airways and helps stabilize your blood pressure.
- Oxygen. At the hospital, oxygen therapy may be used to assist your breathing.
- IV antihistamines. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine and promethazine can be administered intravenously to help your immune system calm down. They reduce histamines, substances in our blood that cause allergy symptoms.
- IV and oral corticosteroids. This class of medications imitates cortisol, a naturally occurring hormone that regulates a lot of biological processes in our bodies. Corticosteroids lower immune system activity to allow inflammation to calm down.
Should you be stung by a bee again, using an EpiPen may prevent a severe allergic reaction, although you still need to go to the hospital.
It’s important to let family or friends know that you carry an EpiPen. In case of emergency, they can administer it if you’re unable. The pen is usually injected into the thigh.
Most bee stings will be inflamed at the spot of the sting for several hours, then calm down. The area should heal completely within a few days.
If you believe you or a loved one are experiencing a serious allergic reaction to a honey bee sting, contact emergency services immediately. Anaphylactic symptoms like trouble breathing and a rapid pulse can quickly become life threatening. Administering epinephrine as soon as possible greatly reduces the risk of death.
If you’re worried about a mild allergic response, or if the sting area isn’t healing, reach out to your doctor. In rare cases, bee stings can become infected. This may require topical or oral antibiotics.
Honey bee stings can be painful, but discomfort is usually temporary. If a bee stings you, try to remain calm and remove the stinger promptly. Clean with soap and water, and use ice to reduce the swelling.
Various home remedies — including honey, apple cider vinegar, and aloe vera gel — are believed to help prevent infection, soothe skin, and promote wound healing. Some of these approaches rely mostly on anecdotal support, while others are backed with research.
Serious allergic reactions to bee stings can occur. It’s important to seek emergency assistance if experiencing trouble breathing, hives, or other symptoms of anaphylaxis. Those with a known bee allergy should always carry an EpiPen.
For most people, a bee sting resolves within a few hours and is healed completely within days. Keep tabs on the stung area and your symptoms.
Mosquito Bite Scars: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
When you’re spending time outdoors during the warmer months, coming home with an itchy welt or two might just feel like par for the course. Symptoms usually disappear after a couple of days. But in some instances, mosquito bites leave a more permanent reminder behind: tiny, pinhole-shaped scars.
This article will cover scarring from mosquito bites — why it happens, how to prevent it, and how to treat these scars when they’ve already started to become visible.
Mosquitos cause more insect bites than any other bug worldwide. Most of the time, these bites disappear within a week.
Symptoms tend to be the most severe in the hours right after the mosquito bites you. They include:
In cases where marks or blemishes on your skin linger after that, the three most likely reasons are:
After the symptoms of the initial bite subside, you may notice a circular dark spot where the bite occurred. This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can also result from acne. These types of blemishes tend to fade slowly over several months, and certain home remedies might help them become less visible.
Infection from scratching
Sometimes mosquito bites can become infected during the healing process. Scratching the bite and then opening the scab can increase the chances of this.
If you interrupt the healing process by scratching and that scratching destroys new skin growing underneath a scab, scars and infection become more likely.
An infected mosquito bite will become inflamed and may have a yellow or green discharge. After the infection is gone, it can leave a permanent scar.
Some people are just more prone to scarring when they have mosquito bites (or anything else that breaks the top skin layer). These scars, called keloid scars, can become larger than your original mosquito bite wound.
A keloid scar is a raised deposit of collagen that occurs during healing. It’s usually permanent.
Mosquito bite allergies
It’s possible to be allergic to mosquito bites. Symptoms of a mosquito bite allergy include:
- hives or lesions
- unusually excessive itching
- bruises near the bite
- difficulty breathing
If you’re moderately or severely allergic to mosquito bites, your risk of blistering, redness, and lingering inflammation increases — which also increases the risk of scarring.
Was this helpful?
Treat with aloe
Aloe promotes healing after your skin has been compromised by a burn, cut, or insect bite wound. Applying aloe to the site of your bite can help your skin heal.
Exfoliate the area
After the initial scab has fallen off, you can begin to exfoliate the area of the bite to lower your risk of scarring and encourage a layer of healthy new skin cells.
Use an exfoliating skin scrub or gentle exfoliating brush, like a sea sponge, over the bite whenever you shower.
Try OTC anti-scarring products
An over-the-counter (OTC) scar cream can help encourage skin healing. Apply these products to the mosquito bite as soon as you’re able to, and continue daily application until the blemish is fully healed.
Massage to promote blood flow
Some people swear by regularly massaging the area of a mosquito bite in order to promote blood flow. Increased circulation may encourage healthy collagen production, which would make scars less likely to appear.
Moisturize with shea butter or coconut oil
Keeping the area moisturized is critical during the healing process. You can safely use natural moisturizers with no added ingredients on the mosquito bite as the scab starts to fall off.
Shea butter and coconut oil are proven to lock moisture into your skin without interrupting its natural healing processes.
Apply antibacterial ointments nightly
Treating your mosquito bite with bacitracin or another antibacterial ointment every night before bed will reduce your chance of infection, which will in turn lower the risk of your bite turning into a scar.
Use anti-itch cream to prevent scratching
An antihistamine or hydrocortisone cream that cuts down on itching can help your mosquito bites heal more quickly, making scars less likely to form.
Sooth inflammation with calamine lotion
Soothing calamine lotion can be used to reduce inflammation and calm your itchy skin following the initial bite.
Scar cream and regular massage to the area
Scar cream and regular massage to the area of your mosquito bite may help make old scars less visible. How well these home remedies work will vary depending on:
- your skin type
- the severity of the scars
- how regularly you use the treatments
Chemical peels and microdermabrasion
Chemical peels and microdermabrasion are clinical options that a dermatologist may recommend to help heal scars. These methods can be costly, though, and aren’t guaranteed to work.
Keep in mind that over time, scars from a mosquito bite will continue to fade and become less noticeable.
If you find that you’re prone to scarring easily, you may want to consult with a dermatologist. They can give you tips on scar removal and scar treatment, as well as prevention strategies.
Not everyone gets scars from mosquito bites. If you’re prone to scarring or have a mosquito allergy, you may be more at risk for permanent blemishes as the result of insect bites.
If you’re concerned about scarring from mosquito bites, speaking with a dermatologist is your best bet for treatment options. In the meantime, home remedies for mosquito bites can help prevent infections, control symptoms, and reduce the appearance of scars.
First aid for insect bites
Article prepared by pediatrician Yulia Alexandrovna Ermolaeva
Mosquitoes and midges are the most common blood-sucking insects in Siberia, since natural conditions are very favorable for their mass reproduction. In this article, you will learn how to properly provide first aid for insect bites and why is the midge dangerous?
Any insect bite gives 2 reactions. The type of reaction depends on the type of insect, the number of bites, and the state of health of the person bitten. The reactions of the body are divided into local and general .
Local, so-called local, reactions are manifested by redness, swelling, itching at the site of the insect bite.
General, systemic reactions are caused by a generalized reaction of the body and are manifested by the spread of a rash, swelling throughout the body, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, dizziness, loss of consciousness. The sooner the reaction begins, the more severe the consequences.
Non-poisonous insects most often do not pose a threat to life, except in cases of a strong general allergic reaction, which is due to the characteristics of the immune system of the bitten person.
A venomous insect bite requires immediate medical attention! Fortunately, poisonous insects are not found in Siberia.
First aid for the bite of mosquitoes, midges, horseflies, ants
Regardless of the type of insect, the bite site must be washed with soap and water, treated with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, any alcohol solution or calendula tincture. After that, in the presence of itching, redness can be smeared with anti-inflammatory ointment (fenistil gel, and in case of a pronounced reaction – with hormonal ointment), tea tree oil, apply ice, make saline or soda lotion, a cooling compress from tea, herbal decoctions (mint, St. oak bark), brush with menthol toothpaste, etc.
Help with Stinging Insects
The reaction to a stinging insect sting is quite fast and appears within the first 20 minutes.
If there is a sting in the wound, it must be carefully removed, being careful not to break or leave it. The bite site must be treated with any antiseptic or alcohol-containing solution, then ice should be applied to the affected area. Cold causes vasospasm, prevents the development of a local pronounced inflammatory reaction and the spread of toxins, an allergen throughout the body.
After revision of the bite site for anti-allergic purposes, oral antihistamines are recommended (the choice of drug, dose and duration is determined by the doctor), as well as plenty of fluids and rest. In the absence of medicines among traditional medicine, it is widely proposed to apply raw potatoes, tomatoes, chopped parsley, onions, dandelion leaves, bird cherry to the bite site.
The appearance of dizziness, weakness, headache, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms related to a general systemic reaction requires immediate medical attention.
In case of a bite in the mouth, throat, or if there are multiple bites of stinging insects, you should consult a doctor.
Malaria is a severe parasitic disease transmitted by mosquito bites. Distributed in Africa, South America, Thailand, India, is in demand among beach lovers.
Malarial and common mosquitoes can only be distinguished by a specialist. According to local manifestations, the bite of a malarial mosquito does not differ from an ordinary mosquito. The bite of these mosquitoes gives the usual local or general reaction. Therefore, first aid for a mosquito bite, which is a carrier of malarial plasmodium, does not differ from the standard one.
For effective prevention of malaria infection, it is necessary to take prescribed antimalarial chemotherapy drugs for the entire period of stay and for another month after returning, as prescribed by a doctor, before a planned trip to tropical countries (places of possible malaria infection).
Insect bite prevention
Bees, wasps and other hymenoptera usually do not attack themselves. When meeting with them, remain calm, do not wave your arms, provoke them with your behavior, touch their hives and nests, and also wear bright clothes and use perfume with a sweet smell.
For a hike in the forest, dress properly: clothing should be long sleeves, hood, trousers, with minimally exposed parts of the body.
In order to prevent the penetration of insects into the premises, it is necessary to use mosquito nets on windows and doors. When mosquitoes are found indoors, the use of fumigators with insecticidal tablets or in the form of a liquid is effective. In nature, insecticidal coils are widely used, which repel and kill insects; their use in enclosed spaces is prohibited.
Individual insect repellents can be used to protect against insect bites. The duration of their action is from 2 to 5 hours, depending on the concentration of the active substance and the surrounding conditions.