Summer is coming again as we all knew it would. With it comes hiking through fields, picking flowers, gardening and many an outdoor sport. To these activities come the hazards of outside play. For one the dreaded bee sting. Stings can come from various flying bugs such as yellow jackets, honey bees, wasps and hornets. At any pharmacy one can find an assortment of cure alls, everything from pills to gels line the shelves. To oppose these though, good old fashioned home remedies can be used instead.
First things first: when some one is stung by a bee, or several of them, is to make sure the person is not allergic. If extreme swelling of any body part and especially the throat occur, down some benadryl and rush to the doctor, ER, or closest clinic. Anaphylactic shock is not a game and is quite serious, and should be treated with immediate medical attention. If you know you are allergic and will be spending a lot of time outside make sure to carry an epipen at all times.
Now if you are not allergic and are stung there are a few home remedies to be used. They can be used on all ages as they will not harm the victim in any way. Before anything is used though the first item of business, especially with children, is to calm them down. Stings hurt and they will be crying and grabbing at their boo boos. Once calm it is time to make sure the stinger is not in the wound. If it is, gently squeeze from the skin out, pushing the stinger out of the skin so as to not push in any more of the stinger’s venom. The spot can be numbed a bit with an ice cube first, most useful with children who will be fighting you not to touch the area to begin with.
Next is to put something on it that will help to draw out the venom. A classic stand by is a paste made from meat tenderizer and vinegar. This is supposed to open the pores, letting the acid in the vinegar break down the poison. This does work well but can be a little smelly. Another great way to draw out the venom is a slightly warm wet tea bag placed and left to sit for a bit on the bump. The tea has natural chemicals that will not only draw out the venom but will also help to sooth the area. The downside to this is tea can leave a little brown stain if left too long.
Another home remedy is to use toothpaste on the spot. Toothpaste has alkalines that will help to neutralize the venom and other agents that will help dry the swell out. Straight meat tenderizer or baking soda can be used in the same way. In truth they all do the same thing in their own way by drawing or drying out the toxins.
After one of the above treatments is finished being used it is time to sooth the area. This can be done with an antibiotic gel of course but there are other ways as well. Aloe straight from the plant or from a bottle will help to cool and soothe the burn of the sting. Vitamin E squeezed out from its capsule works wonders for healing of any skin blemish. That said the hair of the dog so to speak works better than the rest. Honey, an ancient cure all, is the substance to use. Because of its antibacterial nature it will help keep the site from becoming infected. The potassium it contains not only draws out moisture helping the swelling but also helps to prevent scars. Honey also contains manganese, copper, iron, silica, chlorine, calcium, vitamin B, potassium, phosphorous, aluminum and magnesium as well as sodium, all of which can be found in any over-the-counter first aid ointment. Simply smear a little on the area and cover with a soft bandage for a few hours or overnight.
We cannot avoid coming into contact with bees, wasps or hornets, but we can heal ourselves. We can do this with medicines over the counter or with tried and true remedies of the home front. Many of these home remedies are all natural and cost much less than over-the-counter counterparts. No matter what you use, be aware of the wound and contact a doctor if the swelling does not go down in 24 hours, a fever appears or the site fills with pus (a little clear fluid can be expected though). These are signs of infection and should be taken care of.