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MAIN Arrow to EntertainingEntertaining Arrow to Summer Party IdeasSummer Fun & Safety Guide

Do-It-Yourself Home Remedies & Prevention:
Ouch! Wasp & Bee Stings

Picture of a typical bee sting
A typical bee sting:
redness and swelling
accompanied by pain
and itching that may
last for up to 24 hours.

Summer's the time for outdoor barbecues, picnics, or relaxing out in the sunshine enjoying nature.

But when bees or wasps sting, find out how to cool the pain and itch with home remedies using ingredients direct from the kitchen pantry or medicine cabinet.

Note: Severe pain, high swelling, breathing problems, dizziness, vomiting, or difficulty swallowing are major symptoms that occur in those who suffer from severe allergic reactions to bee stings. If this is the case, forego any homemade treatments and SEE A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY, especially if a bee attack results in stings numbering 10 more more.

First, inspect the area around the bee sting and remove the stinger IMMEDIATELY.

Note that wasps, hornets and yellow jackets have stingers that are smooth and saber-like, and therefore cannot become imbedded - unlike the common barbed honeybee stinger, which remains inside the skin.

NEVER pull the stinger out with tweezers or by squeezing. Simply scrape it away with a flat stick (a credit card works best) until all traces of the bee stinger are removed.

Bee and wasp stingers illustration
At left, a barbed honeybee
stinger. At right, a wasp stinger.

How to prevent bee or wasp stings

Lighten up - A common rule of thumb for not attracting bees or wasps is to wear light-colored clothing, which generally attracts fewer stinging insects than does dark clothing.

Skip the perfume - Bees and wasps naturally are attracted to floral smells, so don't overdo perfumes or strong smelling colognes, aftershave, hair spray or suntan lotions.

Dietary zinc - Whether taken as a supplement or consumed via foods high in zinc, this preventative is recommended by some medical nutritionists as the secret to avoiding bee and other insect stings altogether. The notion that zinc alters body odor may be the key.

Homemade remedies for bee or wasp stings:

Traditional remedies for bee or wasp stings include salt, baking soda, vinegar, tobacco, meat tenderizer, toothpaste, common clay, garlic, onions, or even application of copper pennies. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Vinegar - The remedy used by even some beekeepers to reduce pain and swelling. Apply with a cotton swab and dab around the area of the sting for quick relief.

  • Baking soda - The classic cure-all for pain and itch can be applied by simply mixing 3 teaspoons of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of water until a thick paste forms, and apply.

  • Onion - The homemade cure with the most anecdotal evidence for fighting off the discomfort of insect stings. Simply cut a thin slice and hold it to the sting for several minutes, or apply with masking or surgical tape.

  • Antiperspirant - A common ingredient in most antiperspirants is aluminum chlorohydrate, which is believed to reduce the effect of bee venom.

  • Unseasoned meat tenderizer - The remedy often recommended for jellyfish stings also seems to work for bee and wasp stings in the same way. The secret ingredient? Papain, which helps to break down the protein found in bee and wasp venom.

  • Copper coins - Also mentioned in Chinese medicine folklore, this home remedy is said to eliminate pain and swelling around the area of sting with one application. Just make sure you clean the coin thoroughly before applying to the effected area. Or keep it on overnight with surgical or adhesive tape.

  • Pain relievers - Simple aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen will help keep the pain to manageable levels and help you get some sleep.

More about bee stings around the Web:

beesBee sting - Wikipedia

WebMD - Bee and Wasp Sting Treatment


also see -> Jellyfish sting remedies | Lyme disease bullseye rash

Poison ivy itch remedies | Sunburn remedies

How to get the itch out - mosquito bites


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