The Buzz on Insect Stings

What to Do if You Get Stung

The Stinger Has Landed

You've been stung, now what do you do? If Dr. Mom is unavailable, here are some tips:

  • If you experience any breathing or swallowing difficulties, go to the nearest emergency room right away, or call 911. This is especially important if you're stung in the mouth or throat, which can cause swelling of your airways. If you or a loved one have a severe allergy to insect venom, shock can result in less than 10 minutes. Symptoms of a severe reaction include swelling of the face, throat or mouth tissue, rapid heartbeat and hives. (Most people experience only mild reactions, which include pain and warmth at the bite site, as well as itching and mild swelling. These symptoms can be quite uncomfortable, especially for the first 24 to 48 hours.)
  • If you've been stung, remove rings from your fingers. Fingers can become very swollen, and a tight ring can make matters worse.
  • Apply a paste made of water and meat tenderizer (must contain the ingredient papain) directly to the sting to help stop the pain (make sure the stinger is removed from the affected area if it was from a bee).
  • If you're severely allergic, wear a medic alert bracelet and keep a self-care emergency kit (known as Epi-Pen or Ana-Kit) on hand. You can get these from your physician.
  • Since bees and other flying insects are attracted to bright colors, especially floral patterns, try to wear khaki, white or other solid light colors.
  • When going to outdoor areas, particularly picnic areas where insects are present, use unscented lotions, soaps and deodorants. Insects are attracted to smells from perfumes and cosmetics and even deodorants.
  • Don't forget to check your car before you drive off. After all, you don't want to be driving with an unwelcome flying guest.

For other safety tips on how to protect you or your loved ones from flying menaces, speak with your health-care professional.