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Nothing spoils a gardening or outdoor experience as much as a bee sting. These tiny insects are important for the ecosystem but they can be a real nuisance when they leave a stinger in your skin. Although bee sting generally is not that severe, it induces great pain.
Did you ever wonder why?
When a bee stings, it inserts its venom into the body, this venom is water soluble and cytotoxic (toxic to cells); so, it spreads through the body really fast and leads to swelling and discomfort on the stung area.
While a bee sting could be nothing more than a localised inflammation, people who are allergic to bees may develop excessive swelling or an anaphylactic reaction in severe cases. The latter usually manifests in the form of uneasiness or dizziness, Itching, hives, fever, swelling and it is best to check in with a doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
Fortunately, not a lot of people are allergic to bees and for the rest of us, it is really easy to get the sting out.
So read on to know what to do and what not to do the next time you get stung by one of these.

  1. How to remove a bee sting
  2. Home remedies to treat a bee sting
  3. Ice for bee sting
  4. Essential oils to treat bee stings
  5. Aloe vera gel for bee sting
  6. Calamine lotion for bee stings
  7. Apple cider vinegar for a bee sting
  8. Baking soda for a bee sting
  9. Aspirin for bee stings
  10. When to visit a doctor

Most bees won’t sting you unless you are foraging around near their territory or where they are working. Surely, you don't like to be disturbed either while you are busy enjoying your work, won’t you? Though, if you had to and now got the sting, try to stay calm and move away from the area first. A bee usually stings only once. Take the warning and leave them alone immediately. Once you are in a safe area, do the following:

  • Inspect the stung area for the presence of a stinger. If it is left inside your skin, a stinger may keep on releasing venom into your skin, making the condition worse. Remove the sting quickly. You just need to pull out with the help of your fingers. Hold the outer end of the stinger with your fingernails and pull it out in the same angle the bee stung you.
  • Wash the area properly. Use some plain water and any mild soap to clean the area. You do not need to rub too much.
  • Apply some ice on the stung area to prevent swelling.
  • If swelling spreads to other body parts, this means you are allergic to bee stings and you should take immediate actions. Apart from swelling, even if you get some other major symptoms like nausea, hives or breathing difficulty then consult a doctor as soon as possible.
  • However, if you don’t experience any apparent symptoms apart from pain at the affected site. Just take some over the counter pain killers and you are good to go.

Provided that you are not allergic to bees or haven’t accidentally run into a beehive and got stung by all of the inmates together, you can easily get rid of a bee sting at home. Don’t worry, you won’t need to make complex concoctions, common kitchen ingredients would do.

A cold compress should always be the first home remedy one should try in case of a bee sting. This can give you great relief from pain and also reduce the risk of swelling. Studies indicate that ice application reduces the infiltration of inflammation-inducing WBCs in the affected area and it also modifies the vascular response in the stung area, leading to delaying or prevention of inflammation. You just need to follow these simple steps:

  • Get an ice pack or cold compress
  • Keep the ice pack on the affected area
  • Leave it there for some time to let it do its action
  • Repeat this as needed

In case you do not have an ice pack, you can use some frozen peas or just dip the injured part in a tub filled with cold water.

Essential oils contain strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes them really useful in case of a bee sting. Not only do they provide respite from pain and swelling but also they promote healing of the affected area. They also help in moisturising the skin and decreasing itching.
Lavender, witch hazel and tea tree oil are most commonly used for bee stings, though you can also opt for thyme oil if that is available to you easily.
Then do the following to get the much-needed relief:

  • Put 2-3 drops of essential oil of your choice on a cotton ball
  • Gently rub the cotton ball over the stung area to apply an even layer of the oil
  • Let it sit and do its work

Essential oils are volatile in nature, so you may not even have to wash it after application if you apply it directly. However, not all essential oils are safe for direct application on the skin. These are concentrated plant essences that may lead to irritation. So, it is always best to dilute essential oils before use. This can be easily done by adding a few drops of the oil in an appropriate amount of carrier oil. Some good carrier oils for topical use are coconut oil, olive oil and almond oil. Also, keep essential oils out of reach of children. Not all of these oils can be ingested.

Aloe vera is a one-stop solution to most of the skin problems. It has a soothing effect on the skin, which would immediately cool down some of the burning sensations from a bee sting. Aloe vera contains active anti-inflammatory compounds, which act by reducing swelling and redness on the affected site. Apart from this, it also helps in moisturising the affected area, relieving you from itching. Here is how you can use aloe vera for virtually any skin problem:

  • Take a pea size portion of aloe vera gel on your finger, you can easily get it from any general store
  • Make sure to clean the affected area and your hand properly prior to application
  • Apply the gel gently in a circular motion

​Although many aloe vera gel based products are available in the market, it is always best to use natural aloe vera extract that is free from chemicals. Aloe plant is easy to grow and needs almost no special care. Here are some steps that can help you in extracting aloe vera gel at home.


  • Aloe vera leaves
  • Blender
  • Clean water
  • Container
  • Knife or peeler


  • Take an aloe vera leaf
  • Make a tiny cut in the leaf and keep it inverted (cut at the bottom) in a bowl.
  • The leaf will start to leak a yellowish substance. This is the latex, let it drain
  • Wash the leaf once it stops draining
  • Now, remove its peel using a knife or peeler, it will expose the clear gel inside
  • Gently, extract this gel into a clean bowl
  • Blend the gel in a clean blender
  • Take a clean airtight container and store the gel in it after blending properly.

Aloe gel can last for about a week in the refrigerator without the addition of any preservatives. But for the bee season, you can put a few drops of vitamin E in it to make it last longer

Calamine is a great pain reliever for bee stings. A general calamine lotion contains 8% calamine and 8% zinc oxide. Both these ingredients have been found to be helpful in drying the poison of bee and reducing swelling. Calamine is also known to reduce pain due to the bee sting poison. You can choose any good calamine lotion available in the market. As long as it contains the required ingredients it would work. Then, follow the instructions below to apply calamine lotion

  • Clean the bee stung area first properly using a mild soap and water
  • With the help of a cotton ball, apply the lotion on the affected area
  • You do not need to mix calamine with any other lotion. Apply it directly for better results
  • Repeat this again according to need


  • Store calamine lotion at room temperature
  • Shake the lotion well before using it

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a sweet and mild vinegar made from apple extracts. There are many theories regarding how vinegar works on bee sting but not many studies have been done yet to prove any of them. However, one of the theories suggests that it is the highly acidic nature of ACV that helps in relieving pain due to a bee sting. It helps denature venom protein, making them inactive to do any more harm to your cells and providing the much-needed respite from pain and inflammation. Well, you too can try apple cider vinegar by following the below steps:
Method 1:

  • Pour some apple cider vinegar in a tub
  • Soak your affected part in it for some time

Method 2:

  • Put some apple cider vinegar on the affected area using a cotton swab
  • Repeat these steps according to the requirement to get relief from pain

Tip: While the acidic nature of ACV is what helps you with a bee sting, it may cause irritation when applied directly, it is always best to dilute ACV with water before using it.

A bee sting is mainly acidic as it is formed of formic acid. On the other hand baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is highly basic in nature. This basic nature of baking soda can help in neutralizing the bee venom. You can apply baking soda directly on the affected area or even use any other products that contain baking soda. For instance, there are many toothpaste brands that have baking soda as their main ingredient.
Here is how you can apply baking soda for bee sting:

  • Take some baking soda powder in a clean bowl
  • Add some water to it to make a paste
  • After cleaning the affected area properly, apply some of the baking soda paste on it
  • In case you are using toothpaste, apply it directly on the bee stung area
  • Leave it there for some time
  • Wash the paste off with plain water after some time
  • Repeat it if as per convenience

Tip: Though toothpaste is much more convenient to use, applying baking soda powder can be a better option as toothpaste can have other hidden ingredients that can react negatively with the bee sting venom.

Aspirin is a common medicine that comes from plants such as willow trees and myrtle. It is widely used for reducing pain and swelling associated with various conditions. Studies indicate that aspirin acts on and blocks the action of cyclo-oxygenase or COX, an enzyme that is involved in the stimulation of inflammatory processes in the body. Inhibition of this enzyme then prevents swelling and pain associated with bee stings. Fortunately, you do not have to look for random to extract this drug. It is a major constituent of most of the medicines at home. Surely you might have used disprin at least once.

Follow these steps to use aspirin in case of a bee sting:

  • Take a tablet of aspirin and add some water to it
  • Do not add too much water. You just need to wet the aspirin enough to make a paste of it
  • Apply this paste of aspirin on the affected area
  • Make sure to clean the affected area before application of aspirin
  • Wash it off after some time

Note: Aspirin is found to cause redness in some cases. Hence it is advised to use it with precaution. In case you experience any discomfort due to aspirin, remove the paste immediately and wash with cold water.

In most cases of bee sting, you do not need a doctor or medical supervision. But, some cases can get severe and require medical attention due to severe reactions. Here are some allergic reactions that you should not ignore.


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  2. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Bites and stings – first aid.
  3. Daniel P. Singh et al. Effects of Topical Icing on Inflammation, Angiogenesis, Revascularization, and Myofiber Regeneration in Skeletal Muscle Following Contusion Injury. Front Physiol. 2017; 8: 93. PMID: 28326040
  4. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine[Internet]. Mei-Yu Huang et al. Effect of Lavender Essential Oil on LPS-Stimulated Inflammation. Vol. 40, No. 04, pp. 845-859 (2012)
  5. Sienkiewicz M et al. Antibacterial activity of thyme and lavender essential oils. Med Chem. 2011 Nov;7(6):674-89. PMID: 22313307
  6. National Institutes of Health; [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. After bite sensitive- sodium bicarbonate liquid .
  7. Arshad H. Rahmani et al. Aloe vera: Potential candidate in health management via modulation of biological activities. Pharmacogn Rev. 2015 Jul-Dec; 9(18): 120–126. PMID: 26392709
  8. Department of Health[internet]. State government of Victoria; Bites and stings.
  9. National Institutes of Health; [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Calamine.
  10. Agricultural Research Service [Internet]. United States Department of Agriculture. Honey Bee Research: Tucson, AZ.
  11. Ministry of Health. Bee and wasp stings. New Zealand Government
  12. National Institutes of Health; [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Formic acid.
  13. Wexner Medical Center [internet]. The Ohio State University. How do you treat a bee sting? Depends on severity.
  14. Rod Flower. What are all the things that aspirin does? BMJ. 2003 Sep 13; 327(7415): 572–573. PMID: 12969898
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