Mild local reactions to wasps and bees are treated in broadly the same way – the major difference between wasps and bees is that a sting from a honeybee usually has to be physically scraped out of the wound before treatment whilst the wasp does not leave its sting in the wound. It is usually recommended that the scrape is directed away from the puncture wound in the direction of the venom sac.
It is interesting to remember that stings from bumblebees do not remain in the skin of the victim but are nearly always withdrawn after the sting. It is only the honeybee that leaves its sting in the victim and then usually dies as a result of leaving part of its body behind.
There is an interesting tool available called the Aspivenin (I have one always close to hand) which when applied to the puncture wound of an insect sting can literally suck the venom out of the wound by the application of a vacuum. Of course depending on location and timing not all the venom can be sucked out and so for the allergic such a tool should not be relied upon. For the non-allergic this instrument seems a great idea! (See Links Area for further information) and we sell it in our shop.
The main purpose of treating local allergic sting reactions is to reduce local inflamation and this can be readily addressed by the application of a cold compress. There are also a number of branded creams containing anti-histamine or hydrocortisone which may be applied as well as benzocaine spray which can reduce the swellings and the pain.
Folklore tales recommend bicarbonate of soda or vinegar which may be more readily to hand and anecdotal evidence suggests that these home remedies work quite well too. I have had a number of e-mails from this sites visitors confirming that these remedies do work! However whilst they may work in the mind I am dubious about the genuine benefits of these remedies and it is worth visiting my special page to find out why!
Herbal and homeopathic natural remedies are increasingly valued by both patients and their doctors and they have a definite place to play for some in treating the pain and local reaction to an insect sting and bite.
The pain of a local reaction should start to subside after a few hours and there should be no real reason to see a doctor or practice nurse.
If the pain continues to be unpleasant for more than 18 – 24 hours then there is the possibility that the reaction may remain local but have become infected. In this instances it is worth seeing a medical practitioner who will usually be able to clear the problem with mild antibiotics.
MY OWN RECOMMENDATION of treatment for a simple local allergic reaction is probably the cheapest but is the local application of ice as quickly as possible after the sting. Ice seems to have a number of immediate benefits which can include:
- Vasoconstriction of blood vessels at the sting site which seems to reduce the spread of venom
- A reduction in the release of histamine and other chemicals which may be released as a result of the immune response
- A reduction in the efficacy of the venom – it just does not seem to have the same impact
- A reduction in the sensitivity of the skin and the wound site like a local anaesthetic
There may well be other over the counter treatments but none to my mind seem to be as effective as ice.