For Bee Stings, Remove the Stinger

When a honeybee stings, it leaves its stinger behind. But how should you remove it? Current guidelines recommend scraping  the stinger out with a straight edge such as a knife blade or credit card. Pulling it out, may force more poison into the wound.

This advice, sensible as it seems, is wrong, say University of California and Pennsylvania State University researchers. They say that stings are least painful when the stinger is removed as fast as possible -- by any means. When a person is stung, the stinger and its attached poison sac continue to pump poison into the victim, even when the stinger is no longer attached to the bee. If stung by a honeybee, remove the stinger immediately, say the researchers. Ice the wound to ease the pain. A topical anesthetic might help, too. If you get multiple stings or have a severe allergic reaction, seek medical help at once.

For most people, however, bee or wasp stings cause only local swelling, redness and pain that usually last but a few hours.


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