Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.See all posts »
What to Do If You're Stung by a Bee
The honeybee carries a doubly barbed stinger attached to a venom sac that pumps venom into the victim. When the bee attempts to escape after the sting, the stinger and sac remain in the victim and may continue to inject venom. Wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and bumblebees can sting their victims multiple times.
If a victim suffers a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting, it may be necessary to administer epinephrine (adrenaline). This is injected subcutaneously (just under the skin). The drug is available in allergy kits, such as EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. A new product that allows second dose administration of epinephrine for an allergic reaction is the Twinject auto-injector, that comes in two dosage sizes: 0.3 mg per dose or 0.15 mg per dose. In addition to epinephrine, the stung victim may benefit by taking an antihistamine (e.g., diphenhydramine [Benadryl]). If the stinger (and venom sac) is still felt to be present, it should be removed as quickly as possible, using the most convenient method (scraping, tweezer) available.
If a person is stung or bitten by an insect and shows any sign of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., difficulty breathing, wheezing, facial swelling, tongue thickness, weakness), he or she should seek immediate medical attention.
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