These insects inject venom into the skin tissue when they sting, which leads to pain, redness, and swelling at the site of the sting. Discomfort can last from several hours to a day, depending on what and how many of them sting you. Honeybees (fuzzy golden brown body), only can sting once because their barbed stinger remains embedded in your skin, causing the bee to die. Bumblebees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets have smooth stingers that can sting you repeatedly. Slapping at a yellow jacket can lead to a full-scale attack by its nest mates. Breaking their venom sacs release a chemical that incites other yellow jackets to attack. In all cases, the faster you can apply some sort of first-aid treatment, the better your chances are of controlling pain and swelling.

With a honeybee, remove the stinger as quickly as possible. Otherwise, the attached venom sac will continue to pump for 2 or 3 minutes, driving the stinger and its poison deeper into your skin… but be careful not to squeeze the stinger or the sac—this will release more poison into your system. Scraping the stinger out is the best approach, using your fingernail, a nail file, or even the edge of a credit card to gently scrape under the stinger and flip it out. Wash the sting well with soap and water or an antiseptic.


Use an ice pack, or simply an ice cube, placed over the sting to reduce swelling and keep the venom from spreading. Oddly enough, heat can also make you feel better by neutralizing one of the chemicals that causes inflammation. Aim a hair dryer at your sting. Another simple and effective thing to do is moistening the sting, and then rub an aspirin tablet into it. The aspirin neutralizes certain inflammatory agents in the venom. A paste of baking soda and water also helps, or even mud, if there’s nothing else available.

To avoid being stung in the first place, try wearing light colored clothes instead of dark clothes, and avoid perfume or any fragrance that will attract a bee. Taking 60 mg of zinc daily has helped some people, as bees are also attracted to people who are deficient in this mineral (check with your doctor first!). If pursued by angry bees, run indoors, jump into water, or head for the woods. Stinging insects have trouble following their prey through thick woods.


Jellyfish and their relatives the Portuguese man-of-war are two of the most common stinging marine animals. Their long tentacles contain stinging cells. When they brush against you, the cells pierce your skin and release their poison. Even severed or damaged tentacles can inflict severe wounds. Immediately rinse the wound with saltwater. Do NOT use fresh water because it will activate any stinging cells that have not already ruptured. For the same reason, do not rub the skin! Splash alcohol over the affected areas. Though rubbing alcohol is preferable, you can use wine, liquor, or any other alcohol available, or splash vinegar as soon as you can.

Remove any attached tentacles clinging to your skin using the following method: Wrap your hand in a towel or cloth and wipe away all attached tentacles, or use shaving cream

and gentle shaving. If that isn’t practical, apply a paste of sand and seawater, then scrape the tentacles off with a knife, plastic credit card, or other sharp instrument. Relieve the itching and inflammation with antihistamines, and reduce the swelling with hydrocortisone cream. Make sure you get a tetanus immunization if you haven’t had one lately.


Previous Post Next Post

  • Anthony R
Comments 0
Leave a comment
Your Name:*
Email Address:*
Message: *

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.

* Required Fields