Updated 14 May 2018

Beware of bee stings

The symptoms of a bee sting are pain, swelling and redness at the sting site. But call emergency services immediately if you experience the following symptoms after being stung.

The main symptoms of a bee sting are pain, swelling and redness at the sting site. But if you get stung, the Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle advises you call emergency services immediately if you experience:

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing.
  • Hoarseness, cough or tightness in the throat or chest.
  • Difficulty swallowing or slurred speech.

If you show no signs of an allergic reaction, here's what you can do:

  • Try to remove the stinger. Use a fingernail, credit card edge or knife edge to scrape it off. Don't pull it off since this squeezes out more venom. If the stinger is below the skin surface, let it be. It will be shed with normal skin healing.
  • To relieve the pain, apply a meat-tenderiser-water solution on a cotton ball for 20 minutes. This neutralises the venom and decreases pain and swelling. For persistent pain, massage the area with an ice cube for 10 minutes.
  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain and burning.

Swelling can increase for 24 hours following the sting and usually disappears after three to five days. If the swelling spreads beyond the immediate site, call your doctor. - (HealthDayNews)


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Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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