To reduce the venom load from a bee sting, remove the stinger as quickly as possible using your fingernail or a flat-edged instrument like a credit card. Avoid squeezing the site, which can redistribute the venom.
“Brush it off or do what you can to get it off quickly,” Dr. Richmond says. “If not, the stinger continues to inject venom for up to a minute. If you can remove it, that will limit the amount of toxin being injected into your body.”
If you experience a mild to moderate reaction to a sting:
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Apply an antiseptic spray.
- Use a soothing cream or ointment and cover the area with a bandage.
- Apply ice or a cold compress to reduce swelling.
- Use an over-the-counter antihistamine to ease itching.
- Take ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation.
If you experience a severe reaction to a sting, call 911 immediately.