Lifestyle and home remedies

If a bee stings you or your child, follow the suggestions below.

Treatment for minor reactions

  • Remove the stinger as soon as you can, as it takes only seconds for all of the venom to enter your body. Get the stinger out any way you can, such as with your fingernails or a tweezer.
  • Wash the sting area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cold compress.

Treatment for moderate reactions

The following steps may help ease the swelling and itching often associated with large local reactions:

  • Remove the stinger as soon as you can.
  • Wash the affected area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cold compress.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever as needed. You might try ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Children's Motrin, others) to help ease discomfort.
  • If the sting is on an arm or leg, elevate it.
  • Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to ease redness, itching or swelling.
  • If itching or swelling is bothersome, take an oral antihistamine that contains diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton).
  • Avoid scratching the sting area. This will worsen itching and swelling and increase your risk of infection.


The following tips can help reduce your risk of getting stung by bees:

  • Take care when drinking sweet beverages outside. Wide, open cups may be your best option because you can see if a bee is in them. Inspect cans and straws before drinking from them.
  • Tightly cover food containers and trash cans.
  • Clear away garbage, fallen fruit, and dog or other animal feces (flies can attract wasps).
  • Wear close-toed shoes when walking outside.
  • Don't wear bright colors or floral prints, which can attract bees.
  • Don't wear loose clothing, which can trap bees between the cloth and your skin.
  • When driving, keep your windows rolled up.
  • Be careful when mowing the lawn or trimming vegetation, activities that might arouse insects in a beehive or wasp nest.
  • Have hives and nests near your home removed by a professional.

Know what to do when you're exposed to bees:

  • If a few bees are flying around you, stay calm and slowly walk away from the area. Swatting at an insect may cause it to sting.
  • If a bee or wasp stings you, or many insects start to fly around, cover your mouth and nose and quickly leave the area. When a bee stings, it releases a chemical that attracts other bees. If you can, get into a building or closed vehicle.
Oct. 04, 2016
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