Most of us enjoy the smells and bright colors flowers bring us. As the seasons change and flowers grow and bloom, bees are working hard to keep our flora pollinated.

Generally, bees, hornets and wasps fly around minding their buzzing business. Occasionally, people experience the misfortune of being stung. This could be caused by stepping on a bee while it’s pollinating or getting too close to a yellow jacket’s hive.

A bee’s stinger contains venom which causes the reaction. Bee stings cause various reactions, including pain, to possibly severe anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction).

Mild reactions include:

  • Instant pain
  • Swelling
  • Red-colored skin

Some home remedies that can help alleviate mild reactions are:

  • Using the edge of a debit card to get the stinger out
  • Applying ice or a cold compress to reduce swelling
  • Taking an anti-inflammatory such as MOTRIN®
  • Applying hydrocortisone cream to the sting site

Anaphylaxis warning signs:

  • Throat and tongue swelling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hives and/or itchy skin
  • Feeling faint

Be aware symptoms may get worse before they get better. Most reactions resolve themselves within about a week without medical attention. If your bee sting does not get better on its own, visit your nearest urgent care to receive medical care. If you experience immediate anaphylaxis symptoms, use your prescribed epinephrine autoinjector or call 911.

Find the closest urgent care with the UofL Health — Urgent Care Plus site or text ERWait to 511511 to get current wait times at UofL Health’s Emergency Department locations.

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Article by: Molly Recktenwald, APRN

Molly Recktenwald, APRN, graduated with her bachelor of science in nursing from University of Kentucky in 2013. She graduated with her doctor of nursing practice in 2021 from University of Louisville, and she has worked for UofL Health since 2021 in urgent care and primary care.

All posts by Molly Recktenwald, APRN
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