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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Remedies for Bee and Wasp Stings

Spring is in the air, summer will be here soon, and many of us are enjoying the great outdoors. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, and some of us will be stung. Here are a couple of remedies to ease the pain quickly.

: If you know you are allergic, or suspect you may have developed an allergy to bee or wasp stings, seek medical attention immediately!

First, if you're out and about, the handiest remedy is often tobacco. Remove some tobacco. If you dare, moisten it in your mouth (caution: you can easily absorb nicotine this way!) or place it in the palm of your hand and add saliva. Once moistened, apply to the affected area. You'll want at least a dime sized wad. In my experience, this brings immediate relief. [Note: various online sources indicate that dampening the tobacco with water works, too.]

Second, if you're at home, and have some apple cider vinegar, slap some on. OK, no need to get rough, just apply it. I've done this for a wasp sting. True story: I lived in the country, behind a field where small game hunting was often performed. One day I was washing my hair in the tub, with my backside facing the direction of the field, when I felt a sudden "pain in the butt." My first thought was that I'd caught a stray bullet. However, with lightning-fast reflexes I'd slapped the area, and when I turned around to see, there was a wasp lying dead in the tub right below the scene of the crime. Aha! In those days I used a natural homemade hair rinse: apple cider vinegar in water. And the bottle of apple cider vinegar was right there. I applied some to the area and the pain subsided just about immediately. This was circa 1979, and I don't remember if I had to reapply this remedy later. But it's certainly easily obtained and inexpensive enough! (I've used it for ant bites, too, over the years. It helps.)

So there's the two remedies I've tried (the first on my son, the second on myself) with excellent results both times.

Addition advice I found while researching this post said not to use tweezers or squeeze the stinger out, but to scrape it with a credit card or fingernail; squeezing causes more venom to be released. Other remedies included drinking a shot glass of apple cider vinegar, a paste of aspirin and water (do not use if allergic to aspirin!), a paste of baking soda and water, a poultice of mud and water, a poultice of activated charcoal (not barbecue charcoal) and water, meat tenderizer, beer, ice, toothpaste, household ammonia, tea tree oil, and lavender oil.

My highest recommendation still goes to apple cider vinegar.


Sting Operation: What's the best remedy for a bee sting? - William Brantley used himself as a guinea pig for remedies and reported the results.

How to Treat a Bee Sting with Tobacco - simple instructions at eHow.

Tobacco and Bee Stings - Why does it work? Read a simple explanation at the Ask A Scientist© Biology Archive.

Purchase Sting Remedies at

1 comment:

Sharon Attwood said...

I never would have thought of the vinegar, but I always have that on hand.

You may remember when we were teenagers that I got stung by a nest of wasps on the back of both of my thighs...Mama used a whole pack of cigarettes, minus the papers, wet and 'plastered' my thighs with the lot. It really eased the pain! Although, with that many stings I was uncomfortable for a few days.

Many years later, when I was a smoker (glad I have given that up now!), a friend came by my house as I was cutting a few roses to take inside. She got stung by a bee and I was already taking a cigarette apart as we ran into the house to wet it and find a Band-Aid to hold it in place. She is highly allergic to bee stings and had started getting red splotches on both arms and her neck by the time the wet tobacco was applied. She sat down and after about 5 minutes was VERY surprised that not only had the pain gone, but there were NO HIVES, which she would have ordinarily had at that point. I don't know which of us was more impressed by the remedy.

Wish the counselors at Girl Scout Camp had known about either wet tobacco OR vinegar for stings, because the calamine lotion they applied to my bee sting did absolutely NOTHING for the pain. My head, where the bee stung me, hurt for days despite frequent and copious applications of calamine.

Here's to avoiding bees, wasps and other biting/stinging insects or at least having the best remedies close by for quick relief!

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