This post was first published

A bee sting is never a good thing. Even if you’re not allergic to it, they can still be very painful. While most people’s first instinct is to just rip it out and go about their day, this is a bad idea given how this kind of brute force approach could exacerbate the sting. Instead, follow these four steps for treating a bee sting the right way.

1. Check for Reactions

Whether it’s for yourself or someone else, the first thing you should do after being stung by a bee is to check to see if an allergic reaction is taking place. Common symptoms would be swelling on various parts of the body and a shortness of breath. If this is happening, use an EpiPen to contain symptoms before proceeding to the hospital for medical care. If this isn’t happening, proceed to step 2.

2. Remove Stingers

Next, remove the stinger carefully. You don’t want to do this quickly, as this will inevitably squeeze more of the venom into the wound and make your reaction more severe. Instead, use something thin and straight like a credit card or ID to gently brush the stinger out of the victim, being careful to push the stinger rather than press or squeeze it.

3. Clean the Wound

Once the stinger is safely removed, wash the area with soap and warm water to clean the wound and remove some of the venom. Dry thoroughly and apply a thin layer of medicinal ointment to the wound before covering with a bandage. The ointment will both help to disinfect the sting and reduce itching and swelling at the site of the sting. Home remedies include applying an apple cider vinegar-soaked cotton ball or a mixture of baking soda and water to the wound.

4. Manage Pain

After bandaging yourself up, all that’s left is to manage your pain and any symptoms that might occur as a result of the sting. Mild painkillers are often all it will take to deal with that, though even just numbing the area with ice will usually work. Antihistamines are another option for dealing with any swelling or inflammation, as well.

While a bee sting is usually not serious, there are more effective ways to go about caring for them than just hoping for the best. Follow this guide to learn the right way to care for a sting. As always, seek professional medical help if you or another person is experiencing serious symptoms.

Looking for a Salem Oregon family doctor, or have additional questions about keeping your family healthy? Contact our friendly staff at WFMC Health or become a new patient today!