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Wonderful bees can still pack a punch

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bee blog

I am excited to finally write this blog (I was going to last month but, well it didn’t stop raining!). With the weather getting warmer and sunnier, flowers blooming and blossom covering loads of trees, we are starting to see lots of bees and a few wasps. As a side note as I write this the radio station presenter I am listening to has just said the wasp population is set to increase by 150% this year but I will try not to think about that!

Whilst bees don’t generally try and hurt us (wasps, my childhood experiences make me think do..), spending time outside, perhaps running or walking around with no shoes on or getting curious when we see them and making the bee or wasp feel threatened means an increased chance of getting stung. I therefore thought I would give you a little recap on how to deal with a sting and assess whether it is serious and needs medical attention.

What does a sting point look like?

A bee or wasp sting will usually cause a red and swollen lump to develop on the skin. This can be painful and sometimes very itchy, however normally the symptoms will improve within a few hours or days.

Some people can have a mild allergic reaction to a sting, and this causes a larger area of skin around the sting to becomes swollen, red and painful. Again though, these symptoms should pass within a week.

Occasionally, some people will get a severe allergic reaction from a sting which can cause symptoms such as breathing difficulties, dizziness and a swollen face or mouth. If this happens to you or someone you are with you MUST get immediate medical treatment by calling 999/112.

What should you do if you get stung?

  • If it is a bee sting, the stinger may be embedded in the skin so, using a credit card or something similar which is hard and flat, gently remove the sting by scraping it out. It is important not to use tweezers or pinch the sting as this can actually release more poison into the wound area.
  • Wash the area with soap and water so it is clean and doesn’t get infected.
  • Put a cold compress on the area to help reduce any pain or swelling. An ice pack with a hand-towel wrapped around it or a cold flannel is perfect. If you have been stung in the mouth an ice cube works well or you can sip cold water. Try to keep the cold compress on the sting for 10 minutes.
  • Raise the area up in the air if you can as this will help reduce swelling. You can also take antihistamine tablets or apply creams to help with the swelling and itching. If you have to work after a sting and take antihistamines, make sure you check the packets for non-drowsy tablets.

Should I get worried about the sting?

In general, most stings go away within a few days to a week. However, there are times when you should get medical help: Call 111 (the NHS non-emergency helpline) or go and see your local Pharmacist or GP if:

  • You are worried about a sting.
  • Your symptoms are not improving within a few days, or they are getting worse.
  • You’ve been stung in your mouth or throat, or near your eyes.
  • A large area (i.e., approx. 10cm) around the sting has become red and swollen.
  • You have symptoms of a wound infection, such as pus or increasing pain, swelling or redness.

Call 999 straight away if you or someone who has been stung is having a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Signs of this type of reaction are:

  • They are wheezing or having difficulty breathing.
  • They have a swollen face, mouth or throat.
  • They complain that they are feeling sick or being sick.
  • They have a fast heart rate.
  • They are dizzy or feeling faint.
  • They have difficulty swallowing.
  • They are loss of consciousness.

Things to think about to avoid stings

  • If you are out in a pub garden, having a drink out of an unsealed can, glass, cup, take a quick look inside first before taking a sip in case a wasp has accidentally flown inside.
  • Wear some form of shoes when running around the garden, particularly if there are flowers on your grass.
  • Help your children to understand that bees and wasps are lovely to look at but not to touch and won’t make the best mini pets!

Want to know more about anaphylaxis?

If you would like to understand more about bee and wasp sting related anaphylaxis have a look at this great charity who support those who suffer with severe life-threatening allergic reactions:

If you would like to learn more about basic First Aid for home, gain an Ofsted accredited qualification for looking after children in a professional capacity or Emergency First Aid for work then please pop me an email or message to discuss course options available to you: / follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram for regular hints and tips on all things First Aid.

Oh and if you are interested in seeing why I titled this bees can pack a punch, check out this youtube clip showing Bear Grylls after he was stung by a bee..

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