Treatment of normal, localized, mild allergic reactions.
If stung on the hand, remove any rings from your fingers immediately and remove the stinger from your skin within 30 seconds to avoid receiving more venom.
Look for a raised red area on the skin of the victim then look carefully for a small black dot in the center – it will look rather like a tiny splinter. Gently scrape the sac and stinger out with a fingernail or a stiff-edged object like a credit card. Don’t squeeze the sac or pull the stinger – this will just release more venom into the skin.
If you are a by-stander, ask the victim if they have allergic reactions to bee stings. If so, find out if they have a bee sting or anaphylaxis kit. If they do, then follow the instructions on the kit and call an ambulance. If no kit is available, immediately call an ambulance. Don’t try to get the victim to the hospital yourself, unless you are within minutes of a hospital. Paramedics on an ambulance will be able to give medication immediately.
If the victim does not know if they are allergic to bee stings watch for allergic symptoms. Again if any of these symptoms occur, call the ambulance.
If the victim has no allergies or any signs of allergy, the sting can be treated to make it less painful. Wash the area gently with soap and water, if available. If you have a first aid kit you can use an alcohol swab to sterilize the sting area. Adding a bag full of ice to the area will reduce swelling.
Antihistamine creams and pills help to reduce swelling and itching but there are also some ‘home’ remedies. Try applying a paste of baking soda and water or smothering the area with strong toothpaste (not gel). Toothpaste works quickly to neutralise the acid. When the area starts itching again, rinse off toothpaste and re-apply.
The sting may be painful for a few hours & swelling and itching may persist for a week. Try not to scratch the area as this only increases the itching & swelling. If a reaction persists for over a week or covers an area greater than 3 or 4 inches, seek medical attention.
NB: Pinner & Ruislip Beekeepers’ Association cannot accept any responsibility arising from the advice in this article.