Put down those tweezers! Getting stung by a bee is painful, and the stinger should be removed immediately if possible. After the removal of a bee sting, the burning and swelling sensation must be treated quickly. But what are some ways to get rid of bee stings without releasing more bee venom? It won’t cause you any serious harm, but it sure will hurt when it first happens. Here are some methods to quickly and effectively get rid of a bee’s stinger by safely using the objects around you.
1. Use your fingernail.
The handiest method of all is using your fingernail, especially as you will always have one of these with you!
Gently use your fingernail to scrape the skin until the stinger is dislodged. Do not pinch or pull the stinger with your fingers as this can cause the release of more venom into your skin. Check to see if the entire stinger has been removed. If a part of the stinger is still lodged in your skin, continue scraping if possible. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly, paying attention to underneath your fingernails after you have removed the bee stinger in case bacteria or bee venom is present.
2. Reach for a credit card or business card.
Use the edge of a credit card or business card to brush the surface of the skin. From the area behind the entry point of the stinger, push forward, not upwards. The stinger should dislodge easily as it catches onto the edge of the card. You may need to scrap the surface of the skin where the stinger is lodged a few times before it slides out. Make sure you rinse the area with soap and water to relieve some of the itchiness or burning sensation.
If you have any calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream on hand, apply a thin layer to soothe the irritated and swollen area. Symptoms should be relieved approximately 45 minutes after application. Reapply every four hours if necessary as you may experience the symptoms in full force once the lotion or cream wears off.
3. Use a nail file.
Similar to the credit card and business card, use the rough side of the nail file to remove the stinger. The rough side can grip the stinger easily compared to the smooth side of the nail file. Make short, quick strokes against the entry point of where the stinger is lodged to help remove the bee stinger safely.
After removing the stinger, clean the area. Mix water with a bit of baking soda to create a paste and apply it to where the stinger was previously lodged. This will help break down the toxins in the bee venom.
4. Try some loose change.
Reach into your pocket for a coin and use the edge of it to scrape at the stinger. Continue scraping and working away at removing as much, if not all, of the stinger as possible. If you cannot remove the entire stinger during the process, the stinger will eventually make its way to the surface of the skin, so just be patient!
In the meantime, keep the area clean and the swelling to a minimum. You can take pain medication or an antihistamine to decrease the pain and swelling. Wash the area with soap and water. Apply a thin layer of a soothing lotion such as aloe vera gel or toothpaste to keep the area cool.
5. Try out some tape.
Apply a piece of tape large enough to cover the stinger and the surrounding stinger location. Gently, but forcefully remove the tape by pulling forward and not upwards. The stinger should be stuck to the tape at this time so keep pulling until the stinger is fully dislodged. After the stinger is removed, wash and clean the area thoroughly with warm water.
6. Apply some ice to the area.
If you tried the methods above without the stinger really budging, try icing the area first. Freezing the stinger will encourage the stinger to come out in one piece and decrease the swelling that the bee sting may have caused. This will allow you to see the stinger easier so you know where the point of entry is and where you should begin scraping with one of the methods mentioned above.
Apply ice to the area for 15 minutes. The cold constricts the blood vessels, which will decrease the amount of blood flowing to that area, numbing the pain in the process. With the decrease in sensation in that area as a result of constricted blood vessels, the itchiness should subside. Reapply the ice if necessary to maintain the swelling, pain, and itchiness.
To soothe and decrease the inflammation from the stinger, you can apply honey to the affected area. As ironic as it sounds, honey helps calm the angry redness in your skin caused by irritated skin cells. If this causes too much stickiness or attracts the attention of bees, wash the honey off and settle for something less appealing such as baking soda mixed with water.
7. See your doctor.
Contact your doctor and schedule an appointment to see them to assess the stinger if you cannot locate the stinger. It is highly possible that the stinger is still lodged under your skin especially if you see a bump present. You may be told to leave the stinger as it will usually work its way out of your skin similar to that of a sliver.
You likely won’t need to see a doctor for most bee stings, but if you suffered from several stings all at once, it might be best to leave the treatments to a professional.
The first step to treating a bee sting is removing the stinger. Keep calm and do not act on your first instinct to pull the stinger out. This will cause more bee venom to be released making the area more painful and swollen. Remove the stinger as soon as possible and assess for possible allergic reactions such as: hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, dizziness, and fainting. If any of these symptoms are present, seek medical attention immediately. Follow the other steps mentioned above and you should be well on your way to getting rid of your bee sting problem!
*Disclaimer: If you notice any signs of swelling outside of slight swelling or symptoms to stings, contact your physician. They may prescribe an Epinephrine pen to carry with you in the event that you may be stung again to treat anaphylaxis.
You may develop allergies to stings even if you have been stung previously in the past without any adverse reactions. Be cautions and aware of signs of an anaphylactic shock.