Health Library Content

For Bee Stings, Remove the Stinger

Being stung by a bee or a wasp can be an overwhelming experience. Stings can cause pain and may cause allergic reactions, but you can minimize the effects if you act fast. When some types of bees sting, they may leave the stinger behind. When a person is stung, the stinger and its attached poison sac may continue to pump poison into the victim, even when the stinger is no longer attached to the bee.

If stung by a bee, wash the area with soap and water and remove the stinger immediately by wiping gauze over the area or by scraping a fingernail over the site. Never squeeze the stinger or use tweezers.

After removing the stinger, ice the wound to ease the pain. A topical anesthetic might help, too. If you get multiple stings or have a severe allergic reaction, in which you get dizzy, have swelling of the lips or tongue, are vomiting, or have difficulty breathing, seek medical help at once.

For most people, however, bee or wasp stings may cause local swelling, redness, and pain that typically lasts a few hours.

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