Treat Bee Stings and Other Bug Bites
We failed to mention the killer bee, didn’t we? Actually, killer bees are a breed of African honeybees that have interbred with American varieties to form an unusually aggressive insect. Africanized bees defend their nests zealously, and people who come too close occasionally get multiple stings. The bees are widespread in Arizona and Texas and have entered California. The best protection from their sting is to stay away from bees’ nests in general, doctors say. If you have been stung and the reaction hasn’t spread to the rest of your body, here’s what you can do to relieve the pain and itching.
Remove the Bee’s Stinger
The first thing you should do after you’ve been stung by a bee is try to extract the stinger and venom sac, says Edward Kent, M.D., a pediatric allergist with Timberlane Allergy and Asthma Associates in South Burlington, Vermont. “The venom sac looks like a tiny bag,” Dr. Kent says. “If the bag is in place, you probably have a honeybee sting. Don’t squeeze or smash it—you could end up injecting more poison into yourself. Instead, take a credit card and flick the sac away with a light scraping motion.”
Try the Little Chill
“Once you’ve made sure the stinger is out and the area is clean, put an ice cube directly on the sting for a few minutes,” says Ronald Lentz, M.D., medical director of the Block Island Medical Center in Rhode Island.
Soothe the Bee Allergy
“Take an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine—the active ingredient in Benadryl—to reduce the itching and swelling of a bee sting,” Dr. Kent says. Diphenhydramine is available over the counter at drugstores.
Rub on Ammonia on a Bee Sting
Here’s an old-time bee sting remedy: ammonia. Ammonia is alkaline, making it counteract the acidic toxins in insect venom. “It works,” Dr. Beaucher says.
Don’t Be Attractive to Bees
How do you avoid a repeat performance? “If you are going to be outside where bees are, wear non-floral-print clothing,” Dr. Beaucher says. “Bees are attracted to flowers. They’re also attracted to pictures of flowers.” Avoid wearing such flower-like colors as yellow, red, orange, and green. “Pink, blue, and white are good to wear,” he says. “Bees don’t like those colors.”
Be careful not to smell too nice, either. “Don’t wear perfume or scented products like hair spray,” Dr. Beaucher says.
Last Ditch Effort
If no other treatment is available for bee stings, one of the simplest old-time treatments is a handful of mud. Just scoop up the mud and hold it on the sting until the mud dries.
Excerpt from Home Remedies from a Country Doctor brought to you by Skyhorse Publishing