We’ve all done it. While outside enjoying the weather we see a yellow jacket and we begin flailing our arms around to swat it away and then…it stings us! OUCH!! You feel the immediate pain and see a rapidly developing red, swollen and itchy bump appear at the sight of the sting. For most people, although painful, the sting of a yellow jacket is rarely serious. However, there are those who are allergic to bee stings or if you have received multiple stings you should take immediate precaution.
For those who are not allergic to bee stings and were only stung once, you may be feeling some discomfort, but chances are you’re going to be just fine. First, figure out if you were stung by a yellow jacket or a honey bee. A honey bee loses its stinger when it stings and will die. A yellow jacket keeps its stinger and can sting multiple times. Using a thin, flat tool such as a fingernail, car key, or coin, remove the stinger out of the skin by scraping in the opposite direction of the stingers entry. After the stinger is removed, wash the area with soap and water and dry. Apply ice or a cold rag to reduce the swelling. To ease the itchiness, use an over-the-counter medicine that contains enzymes that help neutralize wasp venom or Benadryl. Baking soda, Epsom salt, ammonia or meat tenderizer can be used in place of an over-the-counter medicine if you don’t have one available. Take a product that contains acetaminophen such as Tylenol for pain. Monitor the sting for 24 hours to ensure that the symptoms do not worsen.
Caution: As stated above, if you know or suspect that you are allergic to bee stings, seek medical help immediately. Severe allergic reactions that are not treated can be fatal. Pay attention for chest pains, wheezing, tightness in throat, hives, swelling in arms or legs, dizziness, nausea and/or vomiting.