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Honey Bee Sting

ICE is our FRIEND! Ice can help save a life.

Written by: TTM

Anyone stung by a honey bee should know the following:

Honey bees have a muscularly lined venom sack, attached to their stinger. This is ripped from the bees abdominal area when it stings. You can see this venom sack with the naked eye or, if applicable, with your glasses on. If you look very closely you can see the sack pulsating thereby injecting more venom in, as long as the sack is in place. So, the sooner it’s removed the better! If you try to remove this with your fingers or with tweezers you will squeeze the venom sack and push all the venom in at once making things much worse.

We should take a credit card or a debt card or even a long finger nail or anything similar, that will allow us to scrape the stinger away. This thin surface will allow you to get under the venom sack and dislodge the sack minimizing and alleviating any further introduction of venom into the body.

Now apply ICE to the stung area. This will not only reduce pain as explained in “Ice is our Friend – Pain Reduction”, but the localized vasoconstriction caused by the ICE will slow the introduction or spread of the venom into the body. Whatever volume of venom was injected is still there, but how much the body has to deal with at a time is significantly reduced with the application of ICE. In the case of someone with anaphylaxis to honey bee stings applying ICE immediately after the stinger has been properly removed can make the difference between life and death in conjunction with their epi-pen.

If you have, or care for, children and they come crying to you that a bee stung them. It may or may not have been a bee. You may not have your glasses handy; you can’t tell. There is no contraindication to scraping over the stung area if it was another form of stinging insect. The application of ICE immediately to the stung area will rapidly decrease their suffering. The longer their suffering goes on the longer your suffering is, so remember, ICE is our Friend.

Note: Many people believe we can, or should, apply mud to a bee sting. Not a good idea. Mud being wet as a cooling effect, which helps with pain, but, it is also known that when mud dries it shrinks. The thought behind this knowledge is that as the mud dries it will pull out the stinger; actually the drying, and constricting of the mud will help ensure all the venom goes in. If you know that the sting is definitely not from a honey bee, then sure, the cooling of mud with nothing else available will help.

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